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District 191 students come together, compete in annual chess tournament  

District 191 students come together, compete in annual chess tournament  

District 191 held its annual chess tournament on Dec. 17 at Diamondhead Education Center. In partnership with District 191 Community Education, the event was organized by Brian Ribnick, retired District 191 math teacher, and Jiten Patel. 

In the secondary division, Burnsville High School ninth-grader Harrison Stage was named champion. This was his third time nabbing the top spot. Second place went to Nicollet eighth-grader Theo Diep and third place to Emery Gehrke, a seventh-grader also from Nicollet.

Students who were top scorers in the secondary division were:

  • Thomas Pritchard (8th grade, Nicollet)
  • Levy Spitznagle (7th grade, Homeschool)
  • Alex Rossow (6th grade, Nicollet)

In the secondary division, Nicollet Middle School was named the team champion.

In the elementary section, third-grader Oscar Spitznagle, a homeschooler from Burnsville who attends the William Byrne chess club, and fifth-grader Charlie Doll, who attends Byrne, were named co-champions.

Noah Viana, a third grader from William Byrne placed third, followed by fifth-grader Miles Malundo (Byrne, 4th place) and fifth-grader Gracin Matthews (Vista View, 5th place).

Students who were top scorers in the elementary division were: 

  • Dylan Torgerud (5th grade, William Byrne)
  • Henry Koch (4th grade, Gideon Pond)
  • Jackson Albrecht (3rd grade, Sky Oaks)
  • Grace Hetherington (2nd grade, Gideon Pond)
  • Callen Hildreth (1st grade, Gideon Pond)

William Byrne was named the team champion in the elementary division. The team is coached by Stan Kegel and Sam Zupke. They have won the most district titles in district history. Runner-up was Gideon Pond’s team, coached by Gideon Pond teacher Rachel Theis. This was the highest finish ever for the Pond team.

“The event had over 60 people registered, and it was amazing to see the finest brains in our district competing and problem solving together on a snowy day in Burnsville,” said Brian Ribnick. “Thanks to all the players and coaches for making this an amazing experience.”

The winter session for chess clubs at all District 191 schools begins in January. The session culminates with the state championship. 

Families can register for chess clubs on the Community Education website at