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"One for the ages." An "epic battle." These are the phrases Granite School District used to describe the February showdown between Salt Lake City's Wasatch Junior High and Magna's Brockbank Junior High in the National Academic League district championship.

The clash went down to the wire, with the Magna team narrowly edging out their cross-district rivals. Brockbank was crowned Granite District's champion.

"It was 112-110, and the person answered the question with one second to go to win," said Darryl Thomas, Granite's director of research, assessment and evaluation.

Brockbank had the bragging rights, but both teams advanced to the national playoffs. At that point, neither team knew they would face a rematch in March -- with much more on the line -- in the national semifinals.

Following the match, both teams went on to plow through the competition in the playoffs. Brockbank beat a school from Mesa, Ariz., and Weber District's Orion Junior High. Meanwhile, Wasatch topped Millcreek Junior High, Davis District's champ, and a school from Pittsburgh.

If both teams continued to win, they were bound to meet once again in the national semifinals: the Final Four of the National Academic League competition.

And that's how it played out. Competing for a chance to outwit the winner of the Kansas vs. North Carolina semifinal, Brockbank and Wasatch faced each other again at the Granite Education Center last week.

This time, however, the game wasn't nearly as close, and the result was reversed.

Wasatch, which had their hearts broken at the buzzer last time, prevailed 100-80.

"We're like Canada in the Olympics," said Wasatch ninth-grader Josh Lipman. "We lost to the U.S. and came back and won when it mattered."

Wasatch will now begin preparing for the national championship, which will be conducted via teleconference in April.

"I'm excited; this is awesome," said Wasatch ninth-grader Abraham Moffat. "We lost to Brockbank in the district championship, so this was redemption."

In the academic contest, students answer questions about math, science, geography, world history and language arts.

A few sample questions from the match: "State the literary term for a long narrative poem that describes the great feats of a superhuman hero," and "Identify the small country in central Europe with the official languages of French, German and Italian. The capital city is Zurich."

Without hesitation, students responded "epic" and "Switzerland."

"They never cease to amaze me, especially because of the limited time they have to come up with answers," Thomas said.

Despite their disappointment, Brockbank students said they'll root for their fellow Granite students in the national finals.

"We didn't make it to the championship game, but we made it to the final four, and I guess that's pretty good if you think about all the different teams in the nation we've beat," said Brockbank ninth-grader Tyler Adams.

Asked how he thinks Wasatch will fare in the final, he said "Oh yeah, I think they're going to win."

With Brockbank the reigning Granite champ, and Wasatch headed for the national championships, it's still unclear which team is superior.

"I don't know if we've decided much since they're 1-1 against each other," Thomas said.

Says Adams, "A part of me wants a rematch. They beat us once this season, we beat them once. It would be interesting to see what happens the third time."

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