The Norcross Elementary chess team earned fourth place at the Eastern Metro Regional Chess Tournament earlier this month, qualifying them for the state championships in March.
A total of 21 teams competed Feb. 4 at the DeKalb and Gwinnett county regional tournament. Only the top five teams qualify for an automatic invitation to state.
In addition going to the state championships, Norcross Elementary also finished first among the 10 competing public schools in Gwinnett, earning them the Gwinnett County Champion title in the K-5 division.
"To perform as well as they did at the regionals was incredible," said Ken Almon, Norcross Elementary's chess coach who also teaches fifth grade.
Almon has been coaching the chess team at Norcross for more than 10 years, and he's helped them land in the state competitions more than a handful of times.
"I'm proud of the kids and how hard they train and work. It wasn't an accident that they did well," continued Almon, who coaches the team twice a week. "Most of the kids learn how to play chess in August, and they're going up against kids who have been playing for three or four years, so it's a lot of ground to make up in a short amount of time. To me, that's the most beautiful thing: to see them make those great strides and catch up and compete, and hold their own ground against some of the top teams in the state."
The state championship competition will be held March 17. The location is to be determined.