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Parishville woman victorious in Friday appearance on “Jeopardy!”

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PARISHVILLE — Grinning from ear to ear as her “Final Jeopardy!” response was read aloud by the iconic Alex Trebek, Parishville resident Cori Wilhelm realized what she had just accomplished.

Viewers of Friday’s edition of the classic game show saw the 2000 Parishville-Hopkinton Central School graduate enter “Final Jeopardy!” leading the way with $10,200, but with her two fellow contestants following by dangerously close margins of only $1,200 and $1,300.

One category, one clue and one historic moment later, and Ms. Wilhelm won a total of $18,001 along with the impressive title of “Jeopardy!” champion.

She will compete again on Monday’s program, which will air locally at 7 p.m. on WWNY-TV, Channel 7, and WPTZ-TV, Channel 5.

Ms. Wilhelm, who holds an undergraduate degree from St. Lawrence University, Canton, a master’s degree from SUNY Potsdam and an additional degree from the University of Buffalo, works as a librarian at SUNY Canton. The daughter of Parishville residents Llona I. and Fred Wilhelm, she had her competition during the summer, but her first episode did not air until Friday. Both parents were in attendance in Los Angeles for her daughter’s first big day of taping.

“Cori Wilhelm, college librarian from Parishville, New York, whose mom is a big ‘Jeopardy!’ fan. How big a fan?” Mr. Trebek asked during the contestant introduction segment Friday. “She is a fanatic, you might say,” Cori said in her TV debut. “She used to call us on her way home if she was going to miss any of ‘Jeopardy!’ and we’d have to get a VHS tape and get the right tape in at the right time to hit record. Now of course we have DVR. Her cellphone also, every time it rings it’s the ‘Jeopardy!’ music.”

Mrs. Wilhelm even received a personal shout-out during the episode from Mr. Trebek.

“She’s in the audience tonight? Hey, Mom. Thank you so much. You’ve kept us on the air for 30 years,” Mr. Trebek said.

With responses including “Who is Justin Bieber?” and “What is a souffle?” Cori was consistent and aggressive through the first two rounds of play as she took on two-day champion Damian, from Ohio, and fellow challenger A.C., from Iowa.

During round 1, she answered a $1,000 question correctly, but also missed a $1,000 question among other mostly correct responses.

At the conclusion of first round play, Cori was in second place with $2,600. A.C. stormed out ahead with $7,800 and Damian had $1,200 at the first intermission.

She answered nine questions correct during round 2, despite having no daily double chances. The nine correct responses included a $2,000 and two $1,200 questions.

Entering Final Jeopardy and with Cori holding a very slim lead, the contestants faced the category “Countries of the World.” A commercial break followed and the trio deliberated what their final wagers would be.

“By population, it’s the largest country in the world without nuclear weapons” was the clue. After 30 seconds of intense thinking Mr. Trebek spoke to the contestants.

“Damian, you’re looking very happy with yourself. Let’s see why. You wrote down ‘What is Indonesia?’ You picked the correct country and your wager? A modest $6,500, taking you up to $15,400 and into the lead as we go to A.C.,” Mr. Trebek said.

After Mr. Trebek revealed A.C.’s incorrect response of China, Cori knew her fate.

“So it’s up to Cori Wilhelm now. Look at the smile. Did she get Indonesia? Yes,” he said. “Did she risk enough? She has! $7,801 and she is the Jeopardy champion today.”

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