Alaska high school has winning team name even without team

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The northwest Alaska village of Deering may be tiny — with just 130 residents — but its school mascot is in the running for a national championship of nicknames.

The Deering Northern Lights already got the top vote in a poll by USA Today over high schools from Alaska and five other Western states.

Online voting for the national championship opened up Friday and ends at 11 a.m. Pacific on Friday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Centralia Orphans of Illinois are the defending national champions. They’re back again this year after winning 60,711 votes in their regional contest. In their region, the Deering Northern Lights got the most votes with 1,228 cast.

Altogether, 10 schools are in the running for a $2,000 cash prize for claiming the national title.

All voting is done online at this website: http://is.gd/VVrRf1. Contest rules allow people to cast as many votes as they want, as long as they are 13 or older.

Deering, located on Kotzebue Sound, has 45 students ranging from pre-kindergartners to 14 high schoolers.

The village hasn’t sent a team to the state basketball tournament in ages, if ever. But a victory for the Northern Lights is fielding a team at the start of the season.

“All 14 students in our high school are eligible, and every single one place basketball,” said second-year principal Garrett McMullen. “So every year it’s, ‘Are we gonna have a basketball team or not?’”

The small school has dominated the mascot contest on the strength of a new logo, considerable school spirit and, apparently, a strong Internet connection, the Anchorage newspaper reported.

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Information from: Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.adn.com

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