By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – Over the last several years – In the world of FFA competitions – teams from Houston County have developed a certain notoriety. The Grapeland FFA Chapter Sr. Quiz Team has won three National FFA Championships and the Crockett FFA Sr. Quiz team has made a strong showing at the national level the last two years.

Not to be outdone by their Houston County neighbors, the Lovelady FFA Chapter joined Crockett and Grapeland at this year’s 89th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis and all three did their parts to put the nation on notice: If you want to win a Sr. Quiz competition, the road to a championship leads through Houston County.

The convention officially kicked off on Wednesday, Oct. 19 in Indianapolis as local high school, as well as a few junior high, FFA teams made the long trek from Houston County to the Hoosier State for the four day event and a chance to learn about the program’s past and where the FFA organization is headed in the future.

Prior to the start of the convention, the Sr. Quiz teams had a chance to compete at the national level and showed why Houston County may well be not only the oldest county in Texas, it may also be the smartest!

The Grapeland FFA Senior Quiz team of Amy Crook, JD Martin, Taylor Pennington and Rebekah Turner traveled to Indianapolis to defend the team’s 2015, 2014 and 2013 National Championships. The Grapeland team fell just short of a fourth consecutive national title, unfortunately, and finished in second place.

This year’s team scored a combined 226 points, 19 points behind the team from Amery, Wis. for the national championship, but 23 points ahead of third place finisher Madison, N.C. Amy Crook was the second high point individual with a score of 83. Taylor Pennington was the ninth high point individual with a score of 72. JD Martin was the tenth high point individual with a score of 71 and Rebekah Turner was the 13th place high point individual with a score of 66. A team’s top three scores are added together for the team total.

The Grapeland Junior Quiz team served notice on the competition that teams from the Queen City of the Sand Flats are not going to go away quietly and may have a few more national FFA championship awards to put in the trophy case. The Junior Quiz team comprised of Sonia Davila, Mark Hanna, Cayden LeBlanc and Madilyn McCombs, finished eighth overall with a score of 182.

In the Junior Quiz team competition: Madilyn McCombs finished as the fifteenth high point individual with a score of 63; Cayden LeBlanc finished as the 22nd high point individual with a score of 61; Mark Hanna was the 32nd high point individual with a score of 58; and Sonia Davila was the 41st high point individual with a score of 53.

The Grapeland Junior High Quiz team also fared well at the national level as they placed third in their tier. The junior team members are: Stacy Perez Maldon, who finished as the sixth high point individual with a score of 35; Kasey Scoggins, who finished as the ninth high point individual with a score of 30; Mary Jane Watson, who finished as the 11th high point individual with a score of 29; and Cierra Espinoza who finished 14th with a score of 28.

As mentioned earlier, Grapeland wasn’t the only Houston County FFA team in the Sr. Quiz competition. The Crockett FFA Chapter was also in the competition and brought not just one, but two teams to the National FFA Convention.

Crockett’s Sr. Quiz team #2 finished in fifth place overall with a combined score of 193. The team is comprised of: Meghan Adams and Elian Villanueva who tied for 16th high point individuals with scores of 65; Monique Abb, who finished as the 19th high point individual with a score of 63; and Brianna Kirksey who finished as the 25th high point individual with a score of 59.

Crockett’s Sr. Quiz team #1 finished in 22nd place overall with a combined score of 135. The team is comprised of: Cloe Kirksey, who finished as the 25th high point individual with a score of 59; America Arcibar, who finished in a tie with teammate Maggie Gardner as the 90th high point individuals with scores of 38; and Esteban Garcia, who finished as the 105th high point individual with a score of 105.

Joining Grapeland and Crockett at the 2016 National FFA Convention was the Sr. Quiz team from the Lovelady FFA Chapter.

The Lovelady Sr. Quiz team finished in 12th place overall with a combined score of 163. The team members are: Ty Stubblefield, who finished as the 25th high point individual with a score of 59; Hannah Burleson, who finished as the 35th high point individual with a score of 57; Ethan Tullos, who finished as the 61st high point individual with a score of 47; and James Cousins who finished 100th with a score of 36.

From all of us at The Messenger, congratulations to the area FFA competitors and safe travels on your journeys back to Houston County.

Will Johnson may be contacted by e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.