DARIEN, Conn. — Darien High junior Michael Borecki made his mark on the "Jeopardy Teen Tournament," reaching the final round and coming in third overall to win a $25,000 college scholarship.
Borecki had a tough night on the first of the two-part final. He waged all his "winnings" on Final Jeopardy in Part I on Monday evening and lost everything. But he played well in Part II and kept pace in the game. The overall champion was determined by the total winnings over both shows.
For Final Jeopardy in Part II, Borecki waged $7,000 of his $7,200 total, increasing his earnings to $14,200 when he came up with the "Mayflower Compact" as the correct answer.
But his two competitors also got the right answer. In the end, Sharath Narayan won by $1 over Alec Fischthal. Narayan earned the top prize of a $100,000 scholarship, and Fischthal earned a $50,000 scholarship.
On the show, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek noticed Borecki’s method of selecting high-value clues in search of Daily Doubles.
“There can’t be just one highlight for me,” Borecki said. “But I’d have to say my favorite was in the first game of the finals when Alex asked, ‘Michael, I know you well enough by now. Which $800 clue would you like to start with?’”
Borecki enjoys playing basketball with friends and plans to become an economist.
His competitors were Narayan, a sophomore at James Clemens High School in Madison, Ala., and Fischthal, a junior at George W. Hewlett High School in Hewlett, N.Y.
“It feels awesome,” Narayan said after his win. “This was such a great experience, and I never would have expected to make it this far. Getting to the semifinals was my goal for the tournament, and when I did that, everything after was just like the cherry on top.”
Narayan, who said he was “definitely feeling intimidated” by Fischthal and Borecki going into the finals, tried to remain calm and focus on strategy.
“I kind of had to psych myself up to mentally prepare, because it was really scary going up against them,” he said. “I focused more on the buzzer during the finals, and I also began to search for Daily Doubles. I knew searching for the Daily Doubles was one of Michael’s strategies, which had worked wonders for him, so I wanted to get them out of the way and away from my competitors.”
Fischthal, who came in second, did not actively seek out Daily Doubles like his fellow finalists, relying instead on a more traditional approach to his gameplay.
“I didn't have any particular strategy, except in the sense that I wanted to go out there and play my own game,” he said. “I didn’t want to play in a way that was that risky, so I was more focused on controlling the board. I think you might notice that almost every time I regained control of the board, I went back to lower-valued clues and proceeded down the category.”
Borecki was one of two Connecticut teens to compete in this year's tournament, which lasted for two weeks. The shows were taped earlier this year at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
According to the Darien Times , Borecki was recently named a National Merit Semifinalist and last year won the National History Bee Connecticut State Championship JV level for the second year. As an eighth-grader, he won the state’s geography bee.
Porter Bowman, a junior at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, was another of the 15 teen contestants who took part in earlier rounds of the quiz show competition but did not advance.
For more information on the "Jeopardy Teen Tournament," click here .