KINGSTON — Competitive academics have made a large leap this year at Kingston Public Schools.
The Kingston Academic Teams, both the middle school and high school divisions, found success in their seasons, with the middle school team claiming the district title and the high school team winning regionals late in the fall semester. The middle school team will compete for regionals on Saturday in Spiro.
The middle school team claimed the district title on Jan. 26 after defeating Madill 170-130 and Hugo 180-50.
The high school team rode a strong regular season into tournament play, posting a 16-1 record and winning a district and regional championship. The high school academic team hadn’t claimed a regional title in many years, an accomplishment Kingston superintendent Ron Whipkey said demonstrated the team’s large strides this year.
The team entered the area tournament with 16 wins under its belt and took that momentum into the tournament, defeating Lindsay 240-130 in the opening round. In the second round, Kingston drew Plainview as its opponent, the only team to defeat them to that point. Kingston dropped the contest against Plainview 300-250, even with a second half comeback. With a chance to still emerge out of the area tournament, Kingston was defeated by Lone Grove 210-150, ending its season with a 17-3 record.
“The season we had here was the best season we’ve had in a few years,” Tanner Strecker, Kingston High School academic team captain, said. “I’m very proud of my team and the accomplishments we’ve achieved. I take pride in being the Captain of this team because I’m leading people that wish to better themselves in the academic world.”
While the regional championship and area tournament runs were huge accomplishments for the team, the students were playing for more than just championships.
“We were playing for our previous coach Kelly Shipley, who passed away last August,” Strecker said.  Shipley passed away after a battle with cancer.“She coached most of us when we were still in middle school. She always told us that if we do our best, we would never lose.
“We played to honor her and to remember her, and I have no doubt that she would be very proud of the entire team.”
Strecker said playing for its coach drove the team’s success and brought the team together as a single unit. Elevating their strengths and covering each other’s weaknesses, Strecker said the team worked through adversity and decided to make a strong push toward success, rather than fold. Through teamwork and bonding, Strecker said the team’s talents and abilities, as well as its character, emerged through the challenging year.
“I wouldn’t trade a thousand people for the teammates that have stood beside me and our coaches for the past four years,” Strecker said. “I have no doubt that we made Kingston Public Schools very proud because with both our victories and defeats, we still stood strong and gave it nothing less than our best.”
The high school team is made up by Strecker, Austin Williams, Samantha Fraize, Lynze Anderson, Ryan Spencer, Brady Fox, Nick Mizell, Jazmine Branch and Jasey Kite. The middle school roster includes Hannah Adkins, Jill Boone, Caleb Harrison, Kaden Stewart, Caidence Clemens, Grace Davis, Aedan Evans, Ryan Haggerty, Garrett McConnel and Kiera Pinnick.