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RMS and CHS chess medalists head to state tournament

Posted Date: 03/12/2019

Editor’s Note: Royster eighth grader Peyton Gregg paced 41st out of 216 competitors at the state chess tournament. The team placed 16th. Chanute High School senior Peyton Babcock earned a medal and placed 50th at the state tournament. The CHS team placed 1st in the state 4A division.rms chess team

Finishing strong at the last two tournaments of the year, both the Royster and Chanute High School chess team members have been stockpiling medals to qualify for the state tournament at Emporia on March 9.

At Parsons a week earlier, Peyton Gregg and Trenton Diveley brought home first and third place individual medals for the middle school, and the first place trophy went to the Royster team.

At the high school level, senior Peyton Babcock was one of three people to finish with five wins. It took four tie-breaks before he was declared winner of the first place medal. The CHS team finished third.

Also earning medals for Royster were Jett Cosby, for seventh place; Brayden Gough, 13th place; Christian Hare, 14th place; Vann Trester, 15th  place; Kayl Allen, 17th place;  Andrew Woods, 20th place; Luke Becknell, 23rd  place; : and Josiah Bates, 24th place.

Other high school medalists at the Parsons tournament were Owen Shingle, ninth place; Jayden Gensweider, 12th place; Jaquelin Mendez, 22nd place; and Marcus Mooney, 24th place.

chs chess teamTwo weeks ago, 12 Royster students finished with medals at their home tournament. The team was led by Trenton Diveley with a second place medal, followed by Devin Spencer in fourth, Darron Jones in fifth, Josiah Bates in sixth, Andrew Woods in seventh, Genasis Pedrino in eighth, Peyton Gregg in ninth, along with Brayden Gough, Vann Trester, Jett Cosby, Brayden Swiler and Jonathan Falk. The B team finished fifth. Four other RMS students had already qualified for state, includinge Kaiden Allen, Jonathan Sevedge, Jesse Spruell and Wesley Steves.

A change in rules this year required students to medal (finish in the top 25) at two tournaments to qualify for state. Even with that change, math teacher and Coach Heidi Bolt said she has nearly the same number of students going to state this year as last.

At the high school level, they’ve struggled with numbers for a few years.

“Our core team is made up of eight players,” Bolt said.  Babcock is the only senior and leader of the team, but there are “a lot of newbies” who are really stepping up.  “I would say it’s been a building year. I’m looking forward to next year when (the eighth graders) join the high school team.”

At the middle school, there are new students coming out for chess every year, and the ones who do, usually stick with it.

That was true for Babcock, who stated playing chess in kindergarten at a SEK school that offered it at the elementary level. When that teacher left, the program stopped. When he enrolled at Royster as a sixth grader, teacher and coach Angie Sauerwein rekindled his interest.chs chess player petyon babcock

He went to practice and found a couple of friends playing, so he kept going back. He also found he enjoyed the people and the competition at the chess tournaments.

“When I didn’t have practice I’d go say, ‘Mom do you want to play chess?” and she’d say, “Yes.’ My mom kept the drive going for me,” Babcock said.

As his skill level increased, he found that he liked helping the younger players by sharing his knowledge.

Coach Bolt “is a wonderful person and great for the team, but she isn’t the most skilled person at chess.” Babcock said. “So I decided to apply my knowledge of the game and try to help these kids out.”

When Bolt started, the coaching was divided among two people. One person conducted practices and she transported the players to their Saturday tournaments.

“I didn't know how to play,” she said. “Since then, I have learned how to play and notate. I play against my kiddos. Most of the time, I lose. Some of the time I win.”

When the practice coach resigned, Bolt accepted the role because she believes “this is an important activity to continue” in Chanute Public Schools.

“It increases the logical thinking in players and increases their intelligence,” she said. “I have gone from a cheerleader of chess to an organizer and teacher of chess.” 

Bolt noticed Babcock’s attitude toward the younger players early in the season.

He would go up to them after they’d lost a game at a tournament, reset the board and replay their match with them, showing them moves they could have made.

“I like sharing my knowledge with the younger kids and helping out,” he said.

This Saturday Babcock will attend his seventh state tournament.

He knows there is a big difference between southeast Kansas chess and northeast Kansas chess.

“State is still a crazy hard tournament,” he said. “I’m going to try and reach a three again, maybe four.”

He’s enjoyed the games and the friends, and meeting again his former elementary friends at the tournaments.

It’s been fun overall through the years,” Babcock said. “We had fun with each other.”

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