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Portsmouth New 'Granite State Challenge' Champs

The Clippers win their first high school game show championship in 30 years
Portsmouth High School's Granite State Challenge team holds trophy in front of Champions banner
Hampton, NH

Unitil Corporation, (, a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, wishes to congratulate the team from Portsmouth High School on winning its first “Granite State Challenge” championship in 30 years.

The Portsmouth High Clippers defeated the two-time defending champs from Merrimack High School by a final score of 590-340 in the championship game, which aired May 14 on New Hampshire PBS.

Unitil is a lead sponsor of the popular New Hampshire high school academic quiz show, which is celebrating its 40th season.

“It was a tough game, but in the end the Portsmouth team pulled it off. These talented students worked hard and their commitment to the game really showed. The Portsmouth and Merrimack teams should both be proud of their achievements this season,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara, who was given the honors of presenting the championship trophy.

“Granite State Challenge” is a game show that brings together New Hampshire’s best and brightest students who must demonstrate quick reflexes and factual recall in all major disciplines - math, science, social studies, language arts, and fine arts. The students also face questions about current events, entertainment, sports, and New Hampshire-specific topics.

The last time Portsmouth clinched the championship title was during the 1991-92 school year when they defeated Dover High School.

“Portsmouth beat a tough team. Merrimack was a two-time defending champ. We are so proud of the students on both teams and of the coaches who worked incredibly hard to field teams when also challenged by the difficulties presented by COVID,” said Susan Adams, the education manager at New Hampshire PBS and co-producer of “Granite State Challenge.”

Students on the Portsmouth team were captain and senior Francis Powell, seniors Rio Marcus and Josie Sedam, junior Nick Dahlen, and alternate senior Karina Havaleshko.

Portsmouth coach Hannah Dul, a reading and writing specialist, said she was proud of her team’s accomplishments and the camaraderie the students exhibited this season.

“They’re all great friends outside of school. They all have such diverse interests and they’ve made this team really successful. Their interests are so broad that they all have a little niche,” she said.

Powell said he’s seen the improvements made by his teammates since they began working together.

“I just feel like it’s great that all of our hard work as a team has paid off. I’m glad we can give back to our school in terms of accomplishment. We’ve all worked together and we’re kind of like a little family,” he said.

The team practices each week with trivia questions and uses questions from past Granite State Challenge competitions to prepare.

Marcus said the key to their success was having fun while learning, adding, “We worked really hard for this. This year is sort of our year because a lot of us are seniors and we’re going to have to find new people to do it next year. This is the year that we had to win Granite State Challenge.”

The students admitted that the competition can get a bit tense.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking, but at the end of the day you’re competing against trivia with really good friends, and win or lose, it’s a great experience,” Sedam said. “Every step forward that we take has really made us stronger, which is wonderful. It creates a really fun team atmosphere when you know how to lean on each other.”

Portsmouth High School principal Mary Lyons also lauded the team for bringing home the trophy. “We are so proud of these kids and this team. We're very excited for them. They are a talented group and work very well together,” she said.

You can watch all of this season’s “Granite State Challenge” games and test your own knowledge with online quizzes by visiting

Photo Credits: Mark Bolton Photography

Article Photo: Hannah Dul, Portsmouth High School's "Granite State Challenge" coach, holds the championship trophy for her team. From left, Karina Havaleshko, Josie Sedam, Rio Marcus, Francis Powell, and Nick Dahlen.

Teaser Photo: Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O'Meara presents the championship trophy to Portsmouth High School coach Hannah Dul.


About Unitil

Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to the delivery of dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil's operating utilities serve approximately 107,100 electric customers and 85,600 natural gas customers.


Media Contact

Alec O'Meara
Media Relations Manager