While there was no topping perfection on Feb. 22 at New Town High School, there was something to be gained from determination for the team from Hillcrest Elementary School.

It took the last of three bonus questions to determine the second place winner in the elementary division of the annual Black Saga competition on Saturday.

While Chapel Hill Elementary School captured first place with a perfect score, two teams from Hillcrest Elementary and one from West Towson had remained deadlocked for runner-up status.

The knot was finally pulled apart with the answer to the question of who wrote, "The Weary Blues?"

Only Hillcrest Two had the correct answer — Langston Hughes — and with it, became the second place winner while Hillcrest 1 and West Towson tied for third.

"Great job everyone," Josh Parker, the moderator of the contest, told the nine teams on the stage. "I can' tell you how proud I am of all of you."

Saturday morning's event brought together 15 teams of students representing 12 county public schools that had survived two rounds of semifinal competition.

In addition to Hillcrest, Chapel Hill and West Towson, there were also teams from Cromwell Valley, Gunpowder, Pinewood, Pleasant Plains, Wellwood International and Westchester elementary schools, and Catonsville, Golden Ring and Sudbrook Magnet middle schools.

"I think it is a great, fun way for them to learn about African-American history," said Beth Allen, the Westchester Elementary team coach.

"It builds teamwork. They enjoy learning together and practicing. There are so many questions, it's amazing," Allen said.

While Westchester finished fourth, their parents and coaches were still excited.

"I am so proud of the work they have done," said Ganine Chrystal, whose son, Devlin, 9, was on the team." Lots of teamwork."

Devin Chrystal's teammates were fellow fourth-graders Matthew Perry, 10, and Daniel Huff, 9

Sara Baunoch, 10, a member of the second-place Hillcrest Two team, revealed one secret for how she remembered things.

"If it is a singer or something, I look up a little more information, like their songs," she said.

Her teammates included fellow fourth-graders Meg Schumacher, 10, and Lilly Queeney, 9.

The HIllcrest One team included Nathan Pittroff, 9, fourth grade; Mckinley Reese, 11, fifth grade; Lydia Lesnevich, 10, fourth grade.

Culminating each year during Black History Month, the Black Saga Competition challenges students to learn about African Americans by studying both historical and current events and figures.

Teams receive a packet with 400 questions as well as photos, words of wisdom and court cases to study.

Interested schools form teams of two or three students and typically start studying in October.