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Hernando team wins state academic meet

A six-member team of Hernando County students led by quick-thinking junior Ramesh Nagarajan stormed to the championship last weekend in a state academic competition.

The team _ made up of three students from Central High and three from Springstead High _ bested a 16-team field at Orlando in the 13th annual Commissioner's Academic Challenge.

The team prevailed in the three-day competition at Walt Disney World that had students face off in a Brain Bowl-type format.

The win was Hernando County's first championship in the competition and only its second trip to the six-team final round.

"I haven't gotten down off cloud nine yet," said Mary Koch, the team's coach and a teacher at Central High.

Members of the team from Central were Nagarajan, junior Victor Marin and sophomore Ryan Rexroth.

Members from Springstead were senior Robert Rossano and sophomores Nathaniel Muir and Ryan Brainard.

The team members were chosen to represent the county after a season of competition representing their individual schools.

For his efforts during the tournament, Nagarajan, who has developed a reputation for dominating such events, was named to Team Florida, which will represent the state in anational competition, also to be held at Walt Disney World.

All members of Hernando County's team were awarded $1,500 scholarships, championship rings and gold medallions.