From Hays CISD
The Third Annual Hays CISD Chess Championship was bigger than ever, with 100 participants from all 13 middle and elementary schools in the district.
Brantle Smith of Wallace Middle School became the first repeat champion by going undefeated again this year. He led his impressive first place team from Wallace, which included Hamza Usman, Charles Byfield, Nicholas Wittkopp, Tyler Wampler and Garrett Sides.
A lot of the credit for the outstanding team effort must go to the Communities in Schools program at Wallace, which has provided the coaching for the chess club the last two years. Magda Flores is the chess club sponsor this year.
Dahlstrom Middle School presented a much improved team that finished second place. Grant Garcia and Michael Wenzel led the Dahlstrom team with four wins out of five. Grant’s final round matchup against champion Brantle Smith was definitely a tournament highlight.
Dahlstrom’s team effort also included three more winning records: Grant Seligman, John Ibarra-Peyton and Jake Norman. The chess club at Dahlstrom this year was an informal group that met in the library under the supervision of Betty Copeland.
In the elementary school group, Negley Elementary School followed up on its dominating performance last year by repeating as champions. Negley’s team, coached by fifth grade teacher TJ Moreno, contained seven players scoring 3.5 points or higher: JT Warren, Tanner Bush, Chris Hackworth, Garret Miller, Hunter White, Drake Bartz and Nathan Jackson.
As strong as the team was, the highest individual was second to the individual elementary champion, Alex Ryno of Elm Grove Elementary School, the only undefeated competitor in a field 66 elementary students, who completed five rounds.
Out of nine teams in elementary, three walked away with trophies. Fuentes and Buda finished in a virtual tie for second place. Fuentes took home the second place trophy with team leaders Jacen Jones and Benjamin Volker each winning four matches. Buda Elementary also had two members with four wins, Will Cooper and Connor McClanahan.
Both of these schools benefited from the work of their club sponsors, Jose Campos, a parent volunteer at Buda Elementary and David Johnson, third grade teacher at Fuentes Elementary.
The purpose of the Hays CISD Chess Championship is to build a district wide chess program that can expand and improve enough to compete on the regional, state and national level, said Neil Krasnoff, Lehman High School (LHS) Chess Club sponsor. The LHS Chess Club won the Region 6 high school competition.
“The national middle school championship team this year comes from Canyon Vista Middle School in Round Rock ISD,” Krasnoff said. “Our team leader, Brett Hendrick (ninth grade) has faced many of the kids from Canyon Vista in competitions within our region, and he has done very well against them. Brett has learned from a chess teacher, Paul Chaplin, that we hire at school. If we had more kids getting more chess instruction, we could push Hays CISD onto the national level in a few years.”
Krasnoff said the only requirements are commitment from the schools and a bit more money from the budget.
“We’ve seen a 50 percent growth in turnout in elementary schools this year and now every elementary and middle school campus has an organized club,” he said. “That’s a great start and is completely due to the excitement surrounding the now annual Hays CISD Chess Championship. Next year, I hope to work with campus chess clubs to encourage more year-round involvement in chess competitions, possibly sending a few of the top players to state and national competitions and getting many more in the Region 6 event, which is usually held in February.”