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Quiz bowl champs advance

Quiz bowl champs advance

April 25th, 2017 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

Members of South Callaway High School's quiz bowl team focus intently on their coach, Leah Cave, during a practice. This week, Austin Clubb, left, Zoe Cook, Ember Atkins, Kendall Evans, Jessica Buckner and Thomas Dillon will compete in both sectionals and nationals.

Photo by Helen Wilbers /Fulton Sun.

Not many high schoolers need to know all about Tchaikovsky, the island of Java and the Pentateuch.

But these are answers to questions that the members of South Callaway High School's quiz bowl team have to know, at least if they want to win big at sectionals and the Small School National Championship Tournament later this week.

"I think this is the first time South Callaway has gone to nationals," said Kendall Evans, one of six team members.

The team qualified for nationals last year — teams do this by winning a qualifying tournament, as the South Callaway team did earlier this month — but due to a staff change couldn't attend.

"We're driving all the way to Chicago on Friday," said Leah Cave, the team's coach.

Several of the team members remember Cave as one of their elementary teachers.

The team faces a few challenges this year. For one, aside from one senior and one junior, the rest of the team are sophomores and freshmen. This means they haven't had several of the upper-level classes from which questions are drawn.

"I should teach myself trigonometry," freshman Thomas Dillon said.

Cave explained the highest level of math offered at South Callaway is pre-calculus.

She also added team members have a habit of buzzing in too soon —before they're completely sure of the answer.

"That locks you in, so even if your teammate knows, you're stuck," she said.

But as a whole, the team is perhaps the strongest South Callaway has ever fielded. Each teammate has his or her own strengths.

"Thomas has this huge math mind in his brain," teammate Ember Atkins said.

When the question relates to religion, the team turns to Austin Clubb. Zoe Cook, team captain, is quick on the draw and extra-knowledgeable about literature.

"I don't know about math things," admitted Cook, one of the state's highest quiz bowl scorers.

And so on.

"We're thinking about specializing more next year," Cave said.

During their Monday after-school practice, the team seemed relaxed, often teasing each other or lamenting about barely missing a question.

"This is how fun our practices usually are," Cave said, adding she often brings cookies for the team.

And as intense as competitions can get, the fun continues there as well. Cook told a story about the final points of the district tournament. Two questions involved President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania.

"We won and I was like, 'Thank you, Daddy Trump!'" said Cook, a self-confessed staunch liberal.

Her team won the tournament by a single point.

Aside from the camaraderie and competition, team members mentioned that they enjoy the opportunity to gain knowledge.

"I love learning so much stuff," said Clubb.

Evans said quiz bowl drives him to dive into new subjects.

"Before I joined quiz bowl, my grades weren't that great and I rarely answered questions in class," he said.

Plus, at competitions, the team gets to mingle with like-minded members of other teams.

"You're a big nerd, and you find your people," Atkins said.

South Callaway High School will host sectionals against Calvary Lutheran tomorrow at 5 p.m. The preliminary round of nationals will take place Saturday in Chicago.

New Bloomfield High School is also sending a team to the Small School National Championship Tournament, according to a press release from National Academic Quiz Bowl Tournaments, LLC. Led by coach Cindy Loftus and captained by Kimi Evans and Brooke Tuttle, the team also includes Dottie Hildrich, Colton Mitchell and Caroline Ricker.

It will be the team's first time at a national tournament, the release said.