Students and Staff Facilitate Successful 2022 Scholastic Quiz Season

The Central-Western Scholastic Quiz League has been in existence since 1983, and Westmont Hilltop students and staff played a big role in the success of the recently completed 2022 season.
14 high schools located throughout both Cambria and Somerset Counties comprise the league, which features teams of up to four players each competing in a fast-paced quiz game that allows students to capitalize on quick recall and general knowledge of numerous topics ranging from pop culture to advanced academic fields of study.
Scholastic Quiz games were held at either Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center or Richland High School from the league’s inception through the 2021 season, but this year Westmont Hilltop Junior-Senior High School had the privilege of hosting the weekly competitions for the first time, thanks to the efforts of several Hilltopper staff members.
Gifted Coordinator Melissa Kalwanaski and Payroll Administrator Paul Buriak stepped up to assume the co-commissioner responsibilities to administer the league, and they took the initiative to make our facility its new home. Social Studies teacher Scott Bennett served as a question moderator for varsity games, along with Buriak.
Kalwanaski’s hard work and dedication enabled the league to adopt a new and improved question format, while also adding a new digital scoring and stat-keeping system that significantly streamlined the process of tracking the team and individual score standings.
The Westmont Hilltop quiz team, also coached by Kalwanaski, had a very successful campaign. The Hilltoppers finished the regular season in second place with an 11-2 overall record and advanced to the championship round with a two-game sweep over Penn Cambria in the best-of-three semifinal playoff series.
In the best-of-five championship series, Westmont Hilltop dropped the first two games to top-seeded Bishop McCort before rallying for two straight victories by scores of 265-185 and 215-195 to stay alive and force a winner-take-all match. However, the Crimson Crushers prevailed 300-115 in the decisive contest to capture the title. Bishop McCort compiled a 12-1 regular-season record, swept Windber 2-0 in the semifinals, and finished 17-3 overall.
Saul Santiago was the lone senior on the Hilltopper varsity quiz team, and he was joined by juniors Gayath Karunaratne, Joseph Messina, and Jude Taha. Sophomore team members included Chanith Jayasooriya and Caden Miller. Miller was one of the top players in the league, as he finished second in overall individual scoring with 775 points. He led the league in 15-point toss-up questions answered with 13 and tallied 63 additional 10-point toss-ups. Santiago was another standout player, finishing in 10th place with 410 points on 40 total toss-ups answered.
Westmont Hilltop’s junior varsity quiz team posted a 3-4 record. The JV squad included sophomores Blaize Breault, Celina Hong, Sophie Mize, Neena Roberts McDonald, and Lilian Stonecypher. They were joined by freshmen Jason Kniss, Andrew Messina, and Anthony Zeris.