Quiz Bowl: Local teams have successful season
By Kelby Newcomb
The Green Forest and Berryville quiz bowl teams both competed in the Class 4A state tournament at Dardanelle this year, breaking into the “Elite Eight” bracket of the competition.
The Green Forest High School Quiz Bowl Team had a successful season this year, earning first place at the regional competition and placing third at the state competition.
Team member Henry Holtkamp was named the “Most Valuable Player” of the regional tournament and later qualified for All-Tournament at the state competition.
“Basically the best Quiz Bowl players in the state get put on the All-Tournament list,” he said, “and they base it on your average during the toss-ups. I got an average of 13 per game, so I got a medal for that.”
He said he has the opportunity to compete with the All-Tournament players but hasn’t decided if he will attend yet or not.
Quiz Bowl sponsor Dusty Lee said it was awesome to see the students do so well this year.
“I think we did really well,” he said. “I have a few people who come every Thursday, and we have consumed a lot of tacos and watched a lot of Jeopardy. I think it’s been pretty worthwhile and pretty fun to see.”
As a literature teacher, Lee said it has been especially fun to see the Quiz Bowl team use information they have learned in his classes during the matches.
“They can get those questions now because we’ve actually read those books,” he said. “They don’t just know that Fitzgerald wrote this book. They know information about it. They’ll turn around and give me a cheesy smile whenever they get a stoicism question correct, and I super enjoy all of that.”
Holtkamp said the team was 35 points away from being in the final televised match at the state tournament.
“If we had won that last game, we would have been on the televised finals,” he said. “Last year, we got eliminated in the first game you could get eliminated in, so going from that to third place is pretty surprising.”
Holtkamp said the team was worried this year because they got moved up a classification.
“So we thought things would be rough,” he said. “It worked out for the best because we no longer have to play Haas Hall. They’ve been a big issue for us in the past. We never really looked at ourselves as that great because Haas Hall was always beating us. It was kind of a shocker to realize we’re not bad.”
Team member Austin Booth said this year was also unique because Green Forest hosted the regional competition, and the team went undefeated to win the tournament.
“We’d never had it here before,” he said. “We’ve never done anything Quiz Bowl-related here before, so it was really interesting to be here and get to set all that up.”
Holtkamp attributed the team’s success this year to doing more research and observing the patterns in the questions asked.
“Literature was a big hole for us because they go obscure,” he said, “so we started looking into the more obscure literature. It’s helped us out on a lot of questions.”
Booth said they focused more on topics that they didn’t know as well.
“We focused on learning about them in a way that we could relay that information in a fast manner,” he said.
Team member Owen Cisco said a lot of the questions are pretty weird.
“I like getting to hear all this obscure stuff that you’ve never heard before,” he said, “and learning more about it.”
Holtkamp said one question that stands out from this season was about a Pulitzer Prize winner from Minnesota.
“I had just looked at the Pulitzer Prize list the night before because I know that they like to ask about it,” he said, “so I managed to get that one. That was pretty sweet.”
He said they also had one match where both Green Forest and the opposing team swept a lightning round.
“It’s uncommon to see one team sweep, so to see two teams do it was cool,” he said.
Booth said he enjoys Quiz Bowl each year because it covers such a wide range of information.
“You get to learn about all these broad topics,” he said, “that you can get a lot of new information and knowledge from.”
Holtkamp said it is also fun being part of a team.
“I’m just a trivia nerd,” he said, “and my teammates also happen to be my good friends.”
The Berryville High School Quiz Bowl Team broke into the Elite Eight this year at the state tournament, and senior Dakota Hall-Alvard qualified for All-Tournament.
“It felt really good,” Hall-Alvard said. “It’s something I haven’t quite been able to break into in a while. I got the same achievement in ninth grade as far as regionals went, but this year I got regionals and state for All-Tournament. It felt really good as far as personal success.”
Senior Brian Hall said the team was in the eighth seed going into the state tournament and advanced a few rounds before being eliminated.
“We were in the quarterfinals,” said Hall-Alvard.
“We at least got sixth or seventh overall,” said team member Shane Wilson.
Team member Nicholas Harp said it was exciting to compete at the state tournament this year.
“We’ve never actually made it past what is guaranteed to us,” he said. “Usually, we’re only guaranteed a certain amount of matches, and we never actually made it past that.”
“As far as an overall season, we did OK,” said Hall-Alvard. “We got third at region and were eighth seed at state and made it into the quarterfinals.”
Hall said it was a nice way to go out for the senior members of the team like himself, Hall-Alvard and Amber Veach.
“We went further than we have in the last few years,” Hall said.
“It was nice to kind of get over the hump,” Wilson said, “because we actually got to practice enough to move on instead of getting beaten in the first round. We were happy to do better than what we had before.”
Hall said some of the most exciting moments of the season were when the team swept lightning rounds at regionals and state. Team member Bonnie Hausman said Veach swept a lightning round about medical terminology at regionals.
“We also swept one about world leaders at state against Gravette,” Hall said. “We had a few pretty successful lightning rounds.”
“It was good because when we did it at state,” Wilson said, “we did it against the team that did the same thing to us at regionals and beat us. But we beat them at state because we got all the points. It was good payback.”
Harp said teams get a bonus of 20 points if they get all 10 questions right during a lightning round.
“If you get a chunk you know and you’re really good at it, it can change the game,” Hausman said, “because it can put you from being 100 behind to having a 20-point lead in just one round.”
Quiz Bowl sponsor Delene McCoy said one thing that helped this year was having math teacher Melissa Mease help with the practices.
“She’s a former Quiz Bowler, so she enjoys helping out,” McCoy said.
“We started meeting every day when school starts instead of practicing one day a week after school,” Wilson said, “so that helped a lot.”
Hall-Alvard said one of the weirdest questions this season was about Lady Gaga’s real name.
“They said her real name, and there was a person on the opposing team who buzzed in as soon as she heard that name,” he said. “You could tell she was a huge fan. That was funny to me.”
Hall-Alvard continued, “One thing that is weird to me is consistently there are always a lot of Beyoncé questions.”
“And Shane is always the one who gets the Beyoncé questions right,” said Hausman.
Hausman said several team members had high point averages this season.
“[Harp] ended up averaging 3.5 questions a game,” she said, “and Dakota averaged 5. Nick is one of our strongest players, and he’s only in 10th grade.”
“It’s a testament to the future of the program,” said Hall-Alvard. “It’s sad that some of our best players are leaving, but Nicholas, Bonnie and Shane are great. We have a bright future.”
“It’s great bonding experience being part of a team,” Harp said. “I feel like none of us are that competitive, like ‘Oh my gosh. We have to win, or else we fail!’ ”
“I like how we don’t get mad at each other either,” Wilson said. “All of us miss really easy questions.”
Hall-Alvard said one of the best parts for everyone is the challenge of Quiz Bowl.
“It’s about strength through adversity,” he said. “Getting those questions right, even though they’re hard sometimes, is rewarding. It feels great.”