Prince George High School Scholastic Team Earns Second Straight Runner-Up Finish in Region 5C Competition

January 30, 2024
Some of Prince George High School's best and brightest showcased their academic skills during the Virginia High School League's Region 5C Scholastic Bowl regional competition on January 27, 2024, earning the school's second straight regional runner-up finish in recent years. 
The VHSL-sanctioned Scholastic Bowl program stimulates interest and recognizes student academic achievement in Virginia's schools. The program, with dozens of high schools across the commonwealth participating, encourages competition by emphasizing knowledge of English, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, current events, and various other subjects. 
group photo

The Prince George High School Scholastic Team, (L to R) Owen Shanks, Samuel Genzler, Gabriel Jenkins, Ihsan Hazaymeh, Gavin Penny, Elijah Buckley, Toren McCaughan, Isaiah Langford and Kara Genzler (not pictured), take a photo before their regional competition in Albemarle County on January 27. (PGHS Photo)

Prince George High School fields a team ranging from freshmen to seniors, with this year's roster comprising Sam Genzler (Team Captain, Senior), Isaiah Langford (Asst. Captain, Junior), Owen Shanks (Senior), Gabriel Jenkins (Senior), Ihsan Hazaymeh (Senior), Gavin Penny (Junior), Toren McCaughan (Sophomore), Kara Genzler (Freshman), and Elijah Buckley (Freshman). While the team doesn't participate in a traditional season of traveling to different schools for competitions, the students, coached by N.B. Clements Junior High School history teacher Michael Knight, keep their skills sharp by taking part in scrimmages with other Scholastic Bowl teams to gear up for the annual regional competition.
Alongside scrimmages, the team travels to Richmond and the production stage of WTVR-TV CBS 6 to participate in the station's competitive quiz show, "Battle of the Brains," where the Royals face off against other Virginia high schools. Just before Christmas, Prince George's Owen Shanks, Sam Genzler, Gabriel Jenkins, Isaiah Langford, and Ihsan Hazaymeh competed against Cave Spring High School, keeping the score close before slipping behind late to fall 305-220.
A few weeks later, the Royals hit the road for the VHSL Region 5C regional competition, hosted in Albemarle County on January 27, 2024. The event featured nearly a dozen teams from across the region, including Clover Hill High School, Franklin and Louisa Counties, and eventual regional winners Albemarle High School. During the day-long event, the teams participated in a multi-round competition, with the first and third rounds comprising 15 toss-up, general knowledge questions where any player who knows the answer can buzz in. The second round features ten questions per team directed at the captain, who may collaborate with the team before delivering an answer. Once three rounds are completed, a winner is crowned. 
BattlePrince George High School Scholastic Team members Owen Shanks, Samuel Genzler, Gabriel Jenkins, Isaiah Langford, and Ihsan Hazaymeh smile before competing on WTVR CBS 6's "Battle of the Brains" competitive quiz show in December 2023. (PGHS Photo)
The Royals won their first three matches for Prince George, being only one of two undefeated teams, before eventually suffering their first loss. They would regroup and regain momentum, carrying Prince George into the finals before falling to Albemarle County in a close battle where only the winner advances to state competition. Despite the defeat, Prince George extends their regional runner-up performance to two consecutive years, establishing the Royals as a strong competitor across Region 5C and a potential contender for states in future years. 
Coach Knight praised the Royals after their regional performance in late January.
"I was a little worried that the long travel and getting up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday would affect us, but the team came out of the gate roaring and did a phenomenal job," Coach Michael Knight said. "Back-to-back runners-up is extremely difficult as we are in a very competitive region with some top schools in all of Virginia academically."
While the VHSL is known for its sanctioned athletic competitions, the organization has fostered a variety of academic competitions in which students can showcase their skills, including Scholastic Bowl, creative writing, forensics, and robotics, among others. A former athletics coach himself, Knight stressed the value these academic events provide students and their school community.
"As a former football and baseball coach, I think it's important that we have these other 'sports' that allow another kind of athlete to compete," he shared. "What these kids can do with their minds is impressive and, combined with the speed and reflexes that they do it at, should be commended as well. These are some of the best athletes in the school, and certainly, some of the best all-around good citizens Prince George County has to offer."
To learn more about Prince George County Public Schools athletic opportunities, visit the district's athletics websites at