MERRILLVILLE | The gymnasium bleachers were full Tuesday at Merrillville High School, but this time the fans were cheering for a different sort of home team.
Merrillville played host to the Purdue University Indiana Academic Super Bowl Senior Division, with 17 local schools participating. Results and the names of the schools who will move on to the state competition will be posted around noon today at www.iasp.org/dspcompresults.aspx.
The 2011 theme was Latin America, and teams answered questions covering English, science, fine arts, social studies, math and an interdisciplinary category. Top scorers also received ribbons in individual categories.
Each team was set up with its own table at the center of the gym, with scorekeepers off to the sides. Each time a team member came up with the right answer, hands were raised and the team's fans in the audience let out a loud cheer.
Participating high schools included Crown Point, East Chicago Central, Lake Central, Lew Wallace, Lowell, Merrillville, Munster, West Side Leadership Academy, Andrean, Calumet, Gavit, George Rogers Clark, Griffith, Hammond, Hammond Morton, Theodore Roosevelt and Wirt-Emerson Visual & Performing Arts Academy.
Just as in an athletic competition, coaches got a timeout during each category to put in fresh talent and change the lineup. They were forbidden from doing any last-minute coaching, though.
The English competition focused on Latin American stories, poets and authors, literary terms and word definitions.
"It was much harder than last year," said Merrillville sophomore Allison Cronli, 16.
Competitors were given contest materials to study ahead of time, and "we read them over and over and over again," she said.
"They definitely picked the littlest things" to quiz the teams about, said teammate Emma Brice, 16, also a sophomore.
"I did like the stories," said Merrillville sophomore Jacob Swierc, 15. "The questions, not so much."
The English competition ended in a three-way tie, with Lowell, West Side and Andrean scoring 17 apiece.
Science questions focused on gemstones, batteries, thermal conductivity, condensation, melting patterns, minerals in the Andes mountains and weather patterns in Patagonia. Andrean and Munster battled it out for first, with Munster ultimately ending up with a one-point lead, and a score of 17.
Every team had a strong showing in the fine arts categories, but Lowell took the lead midway, ending up with a high score of 19.
Fine arts questions focused on Latin composers and visual artists, with emphasis on mural painting.