Honda All-star Team Succeeds in National Challenge
PRINCESS ANNE, MD – Hard work paid off for a rookie team that entered competition as one of 64 challengers and made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore Fighting Hawks that competed at the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge possess focus and teamwork to rival that of any athletes. These competitors didn’t face a physical challenge. They answered tough questions.
From March 30 through April 3, the Hawks competed against 64 other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the national academic tournament in Orlando, FL. Throughout the competition, the UMES team displayed a willingness to play and a drive to win.
The UMES team finished divisional play with a record of six wins and one loss. This qualified the Hawks for a berth in the Sweet 16 and, ultimately, they finished in 14th place. Freshman Meredith Esguerra led her team in scoring with a total of 310 individual points, earning third place in the division.
Coach Elden Hawkes, Jr., a former academic team member, said the Hawks were tough competitors. “"The team just had this never say die attitude,” he said. “Win or lose, they gave every game their all. The team defied the expectations of their fellow competitors and peers. It was a pleasure and an honor to be the coach of this exceptional team."
The Captain of this year’s UMES Honda All-Star Challenge team is also the lone senior: Janiece Blackmon. Blackmon is a sociology major from Highland Mills, NY. Her teammates are: Mark DeMorra, a sophomore majoring in physics from Delmar, MD; Meredith Esguerra, a freshman majoring in agribusiness from Fresno, CA; Gregory Jones, Jr., a freshman majoring in biology from Baltimore, MD and Christina Sutton, a
freshman majoring in chemistry and Pre-Med from East Orange, NJ. Annette Noble, lecturer in the Department of Math and Computer Science, assists Hawkes in coaching the team and served as the University’s official representative.
According to Erick Conn, assistant vice president of national advertising for American Honda Motor Co., Inc., “The competition promotes intellectual proficiency, but also reinforces the kind of values that define character and give young people the confidence and character they need to succeed throughout their lives.”
The Honda Campus All-Star Challenge is held each spring. Topics covered range from world history to popular culture. More than 300 of the best and brightest students from the participating schools compete for the national championship. The team that finishes in first place wins a $50,000 grant for their college or university. The 2003-04 UMES team finished second and won $26,000 for the University.
Maureen McNeill, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580.