Phillips Academy’s economics team brought home the gold with two first place trophies from the National Economics Challenge (NEC) this past week. The team consisted of Daniel Aronov ’11, Sophia Erickson ’11, Advaya Krishna ’11, Tum Kulalert ’11, James Lim ’12, Tina Su ’11 and Chuan Xu ’12. The team won the Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge (HPEC) held at Harvard University this past Saturday and the National Economics Challenge (NEC) Massachusetts state competition, held at the Boston Federal Reserve on Monday morning. In the NEC competition, the Phillips Academy beat Belmont High School in the final round with a close score of 11-9. Kulalert said, “Belmont High School buzzed in on the final question, but answered the question incorrectly. We answered the question correctly to win the competition. It was a so close.” “It felt incredible when we actually won. Although we had spent a lot of time preparing, that did not guarantee our success. It was very rewarding to hold the trophy up in my hands for everyone to see,” he continued. The competition began with an individual multiple- choice round. The questions covered microeconomics, macroeconomics, and international finance theories. The individual points counted towards the team score, which totaled 1350 points. Phillips Academy earned first place with 1325. Belmont High School fell behind, earning 1320 points. The top two teams also progressed to the final trivia rounds at the NEC, a round in which the first team to answer 11 questions correctly wins the trivia contest. Lim said, “The final quiz- bowl round was the most exciting part of the competition. We were all so excited and nervous at the same time.” “While we managed to gain an early lead, there was never a single moment in the quiz- bowl round where we could have said that we really had the game in the basket,” Lim added. Belmont High School won the NEC state competition last year. Lim said that Belmont brought a crowd of supporters to cheer for the school. “The huge crowd of people who were cheering against us, which put a lot of mental pressure on our team and made the competition very intense,” said Lim. The Economics Team also won first place at the HPEC on Saturday. The competition at Harvard was much easier, according to many participants. Lim said that in the quiz- bowl at Harvard the Phillips Academy team members maintained a lead during the competition. “Harvard competition was much more lax because we all knew that there was not too much on stake. It was more like a practice competition for the NEC competition on Monday,” said Lim. Phillips Academy first participated in the competitions in 2009. Kwon Yong Jin ‘09 won the National competition when he was a senior. Jin, a sophomore at Harvard, organized the HPEC this past weekend. Kulalert said that Jin had spoken to the team members about his preparations for the event and recommended useful readings for the team. The team prepared for both competitions individually over spring break. Xu said that they all read through college level Economics textbooks before spring break. Five days before the competition the team gathered as a team to prepare for the contest together. Last year the Phillips Academy team prepared for the contest but could not attend the competition due to schedule conflicts, according to Xu. Xu said that the seniors on the team this year were dedicated to returning to the competition. “I think we all learned a lot in the process. The topics were difficult, though after many intense study sessions, I think that our team was able to handle it,” said Xu. “My favorite moment of the two competitions was when I shook the Belmont High School team captain’s hand. While the contest was important, it was not everything. When the competition was over, we had made friends,” said Kulalert. On April 27, the Phillips Academy economics team will proceed to the NEC semi- final round. The winning teams from all 50 states will attend. The team hopes to place in the top six teams of the semifinals and advance to the national finals, which will be held in Manhattan, New York in May.