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Paul Rolly: A Utah, BYU, USU rivalry you’ve never heard of

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Paul Rolly

By PAUL ROLLY

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published May 19 2014 01:01AM
Updated May 19, 2014 01:01AM

Any Utahn who pays attention knows the fierce battle lines drawn among the state’s major universities in sports, especially football and basketball. Utah and BYU have taken turns being dominant, with Utah State getting in its licks at times.

Other sports such as volleyball, gymnastics and baseball sometimes have grabbed the spotlight. The ski team often has put the Utes on the map. For Brigham Young University, it’s often distance running.

Millions are spent on college sports. Football and basketball coaches rank among the highest-paid employees of their respective schools.

For fans, some games are momentous experiences, depending on the outcomes and, particularly when Utah faces BYU, it can get downright ugly.

But there is another competition forged annually among Utah, BYU, and USU that I would wager you have never heard of.

Among the participants, it’s just as fierce, just as passionate. And as a flaming Ute fanatic who bleeds deep crimson, I have to tip my hat to the Cougars. They usually dominate this competition.

So what is it?

It’s Latin.

Unlike the millions spent on big-time sports, this competition gets a small endowment from a sports fan who also loves the classics. The winners get small cash prizes — and their feats are just as admirable, except they’re using brain, not brawn.

The 15-year-old contest is run by Margaret Toscano, associate professor of classics at the U.

The students translate a chosen passage in classic Latin into English. They are judged on how tightly they can translate and how well they comprehend the context. Because there are so many more words in English than Latin, creativity and subjectivity are required.

Of the 200 or so competitors this year, BYU had about 100, while Utah and Utah State had about 50 each.

Because BYU has more resources than the taxpayer-funded schools, its Latin students meet five days a week, while the students at Utah and USU meet four days a week. At the end of two years, Toscano said, that’s the equivalent of an extra semester.

So without further ado, here are the 2014 winners in the Nick A. Yengich Latin Competition:

Level I (first-year students) — first, Tyler Paskett, Utah, ($150 prize); second, Coral Roper, BYU, ($100); third, Matthew Dewsnup, BYU, ($75); fourth, Cassandra Ball, BYU, (honorable mentions, Sierra Davis, BYU, and Lindsey Stewart, Utah.

Level II (advanced students) — first, Nozomu Okuda, BYU, ($150); second, Catherine Daun, BYU, ($100), third, David Youd, USU, ($75); fourth, Benjamin Davis, Utah ($50); honorable mentions, Jordan Pueblo, BYU, and Patrick Merkle, BYU.

prolly@sltrib.com

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