Spalding student has 'blast' on 'Jeopardy'

High school junior finishes 3rd in teen contest, wins $26,400

November 23, 2008|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

There's certain sophistication, as a high school junior, in knowing an obscure bit of 19th-century American history or the former names of the many African countries that have changed in times of turmoil.

And then it's just plain cool to suddenly have 50 friend requests on Facebook from strangers who have cheered on your academic prowess on national television.

Audrey Hosford, an Annapolis resident and a student at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, is basking in that sophisticated bliss. The 15-year-old placed third overall and won $26,400 in the Jeopardy Teen Tournament that culminated on television Friday night.

Hosford said the experience was a "blast," but with the maturity of a young lady far beyond her years, later added that her winnings are "all going toward college. I can't bank on anything right now. Especially the way the stock market is right now."

For years, Hosford has watched the show with her father, Reid Hosford, a Jeopardy enthusiast and the owner of a title abstracting company, who has also tried out for the show. At 10, she was shouting out occasional correct answers at the television screen.

At 13, she went online and took a try-out test and got a call back.

"I get chill bumps when I tell anyone about it," said Audrey's mother, Teresa Hosford, who works as a fashion consultant for a California designer. "I'm so proud about it."

But it was the second audition that did the trick. Hosford traveled to Chicago for an interview and was one of 15 contestants from across the country who flew to Los Angeles in early October to film the tournament.

She studied some before the actual competition, which was filmed over two days. She concentrated mostly on brushing up on literature and some geography.

"We were lucky enough to have an atlas before the '60s, like with the Soviet Union and what countries used to be called," Hosford said. Jeopardy! doesn't give students study guides.

In a press release touting her Jeopardy run, her school said she was in the 97th percentile on the PSAT when she was 14 and won the Anne Arundel County Spelling Bee.

Hosford, who plays guitar, sings in her school chorus and is the goalie on the girl's varsity ice hockey team at her school, also answered correctly a slew of pop-culture questions with answers like Miley Cyrus and Chad Michael Murray.

She broke a bit of Jeopardy! protocol, she said, by winning the game twice without answering correctly the final Jeopardy question.

One such question asked the competitors to identify the branch of mathematics that comes from the Arabic word for reuniting. Hosford's answer: Addition. The correct answer: Algebra.

However, by the finals, she had the swing of things and bet everything she had in final Jeopardy!, and correctly answered "What is Des Moines," when queried on the only other state capital besides Baton Rouge that is a two-word French phrase.

"I was standing there looking at the console, the final Jeopardy music was playing, and I'm like, 'What do I know? I speak Spanish. ... It sounds French to me!' "

Hosford said students at her school have been encouraging and most of her newly acquired Facebook friends are interested in hearing about her experience on the show.

"It's really a buzzer rhythm," she explained. "Most of the kids knew the answers. It's just a buzzer game, who would get it fast enough."

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