Scholar bowl teams from Helias Catholic High School and Jefferson City High School will compete at the National Academic Quiz Tournaments national championship in Atlanta, Georgia, next week — and it will be the first time at nationals for JCHS.
JCHS qualified for the national championship tournament in 2011 but was not able to attend, according to a news release from NAQT.
Scholar bowl team competitions — also known as quiz bowl or academic team — involve 20-question matches, with each question worth 10 or 15 points. The team that answers a question correctly first gets control of a three-part bonus question worth 10 points. Each player often has a specialty body of knowledge he or she focuses on — such as music, art or sports — but some act as utility players, too.
JCHS's team at the national championship May 24-26 in Atlanta will be captained by Nick Erickson, who will be joined by Elijah Hilty, Hannah Keely, Michaela (Micah) Kiesling, Lucah McCullough, Stephen Rogers and Miah Sickler, according to NAQT's news release.
"With its strong finish at Kewpie Academic Tournament VI, the scholar bowl team from Jefferson City High School proved themselves worthy to play on a national stage," according to the news release.
The team's coach, Shelly Kiesling, was unavailable to comment on this story.
Hilty, Keely, Rogers and a Nicholas Erickson are listed as JCHS Class of 2019 graduates in last Sunday's commencement ceremony program.
Helias' team at nationals last year was all seniors, but coach Hannah Reed said younger students have stepped in to fill the void left by last year's graduates.
"They definitely came through this year. I think it was exciting for some of our seniors, especially this year, because they really had the opportunity to shine in a way they hadn't before" in the shadow of the previous year's team of seniors, Reed said.
"These seniors this year really got the opportunity to show us everything they had. It's been really fun to watch them grow throughout the year, and really put in their all all year long" instead of coasting at the end, Reed said.
The Helias team going to the national championship in Atlanta will include seniors Cameron Haake, Jim Donovan and Natalie Landwehr and juniors Veronica Worthen and Dave Borgmeyer, she said.
Junior Jacob Schepers could also go, Reed added, but it depends on whether he goes to the state tennis competition.
Helias did not make it to state for scholar bowl this year, Reed said. Teams qualify for NAQT nationals at different tournaments throughout their regular season play, she said, but Helias had "a very tough loss" at districts to Hickman High School.
She said Helias succeeded in getting the last tossup question when it was down to the wire in terms of the point difference between Helias and Hickman, but Helias missed all three bonus questions, which Hickman rebounded and won by 10 points.
"Our kids were disappointed," Reed said.
However, going into nationals, she said Haake's geography knowledge of obscure mountain ranges, rivers and countries is an asset the team has never had before.
Though Haake's knowledge stood out in particular to her, Reed said, she is proud of how hard the whole team has worked this year — "they really have to be dedicated" to have gotten as far as they have.
Reed said Helias finished at nationals last year in 78th place; NAQT's news release said there were 352 teams in the tournament last year.
Helias finished in 97th out of 304 teams at nationals in 2017.
There will be 334 teams at the national championship tournament this year, according to NAQT.
Tournament results for each team will be updated throughout the three days of competition at naqt.com/go/stats/9500.
The other Missouri teams at nationals this year will be from Eureka, Hallsville, Hannibal, Kickapoo in Springfield, Ladue, Liberty North, North Kansas City, Parkview in Springfield, Polo, Savannah, St. Joseph Central, and St. Pius X in Kansas City.