The chess team from Metcalf Junior High in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 once again brought home several team and individual honors from the National Junior High Chess Championships, held April 15-17 in Indianapolis.
The tournament started in an outstanding fashion, with three individuals earning top three finishes in their rating class in the blitz competition. Ninth grader Ross Waataja took first place in the Under 1000 rating, while ninth graders Andrew Moe and Ben Brekke took first and third places,respectively, in the 1000-1199 rating class. As a team, Metcalf took 7th place in the blitz championship.
In the championship tournament, the Metcalf U-1250 team was crowned co-national champions, led by Matthew Nguyen (5th place individually) and Jarrot Mosoti (20th). Also scoring were Brayden Taheri and Ross Waataja. Also at the team level, the U-750 team took 2nd place in the nation and scoring were Lyla Lichliter, Carson Zerr (16th place), David Wilkens, Jakob Callenius and Kent Le-Vu. The K-9 Championship section team took 7th in the country.
Several individuals also had outstanding performances. Eighth grader Lyla Lichliter was the K-8 national co-champion in the U-750 rating. In the U-1000 rating, Zach Smith placed 4th and Adam Stadick tied for 20th. In the K-9 Championship section, Zander Gorton finished 36th overall, Jack Reichert took first in the 1400-1599 rating group, Ben Brekke took 2nd in the 1000-1199 rating group, and Collin Ridgeway was 3rd in the 1200-1399 group. All these players were scorers in the team’s 7th place finish.
Coached by Metcalf math teacher Brian Ribnick, the team is one of the most successful junior high chess programs in the country by winning their 19th national championship. Only one other school has won more national junior high chess championships.
Earlier this year, the Metcalf team won the Minnesota State Junior High Chess Championship — the 29th state chess title in the school’s history.