Claflin is host for Honda Challenge

Feb 10, 2020

As a host team, Claflin has qualified for the finals in the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge. (Panther photo by Jameel K. Scott)


On Friday, Feb. 7, Claflin University hosted and participated in the National Qualifying Tournament of the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, a competition sponsored by Honda.

The event was the first of many national qualifying tournaments at which a total of 65 HCASC teams competed in a fast-paced buzzer competition that rotated in round-robin style from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The teams went head-to-head in battles that tested the students' knowledge on subject matters pertaining to astrology, science, history, literature, pop culture and more.

The five teams vying for the prize at Friday’s competition were Claflin, Allen University, Harris-Stowe State University, Oakwood University and Paine College.

Prizes include grants for the winning institutions and a place in the HCASC National Championship Tournament taking place March 28-April 1 at the America Honda campus in California. Each round of the competition tests the students’ academic and overall intellectual capacity.

This year marked the 25th for Claflin’s participation in the 31 years of HCASC.

Representing Claflin at the event were Mackenzie Brown, a junior; Travis Armstead II, a sophomore; and Jevauni Malcolm and Otiana Thompson, both freshmen. The students had the support of their coaches, Dr. Belinda Wheeler, associate professor of English, and Dr. Andre Key, associate professor of African American studies.

In an interview, Wheeler said, “We are quite prepared for the upcoming tournament as we recently did well at a scrimmage held at Benedict College, where we won every round.”

She could not hide her pride when she spoke of the team's individual and collective growth over the span of months they spent in preparation for the tournament.

“I hope they gain a sense of community from Claflin and HCASC, as the motto for HCASC is 'Friends for Life,'" Wheeler said. "With this program, we hope that those who compete are able to network and get to know others."

Networking is possible as students from HBCUs all over the country are able to come together and meet the competitions.

“The competition also helps students to harness the resources they already know and it helps them to learn more about black culture," Wheeler said.

Claflin’s students battled vigorously in each round, racking up more than 1,000 points. At the end of the event, Oakwood emerged as the winner, advancing to the National Championship Tournament. There they will compete with other qualifying teams, including Claflin, which as a qualifying tournament host will also compete in the California leg of the finals.

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