Quiz Bowl Team Surpasses Expectations

Seniors Ishaan Sachdeva, Charlie Gillies, Wesley Hunt and Jacob Gunnarson sit across from another high school’s quiz bowl team, listening closely as the moderator begins reading the question. The moment one of them feels confident enough of the answer, they hit the buzzer. The moderator pauses, and weeks of preparation all boil down to that one moment.

“I’ve always been kind of obsessed with knowing things and I was really happy I could find an outlet where I could use everything I’ve been learning,” Gillies said. “I’m also really competitive and I like winning.”

The quiz bowl team has been doing much better this year, placing second in the region and third place in the state, as well as in the top eight in multiple private competitions. The team is traveling to Atlanta during Memorial Day weekend for the national finals.

“I think the reason we’re doing well this year is because we have so much balance on the team,” Gillies, who is the history expert on the team, said. “Each of us has an area of expertise and we know we can rely on the other people.”

In a single round of quiz bowl questions, participants can be asked about a wide range of subjects from music to current events to science. To prepare, the team practices sample questions after school, making a list of the questions they miss to research afterwards. Before last year’s national’s tournament, the team hunkered down in a library conference room surrounded by books on art history and philosophy.

Team members also prepare individually during their spare time.

Hunt, who is the literary expert on the team, said, “I have my mom drill me to prepare.  I also study by looking up stuff on the internet, getting really deep into the material.”

Experience, however, is one skill they can’t learn from a textbook. This year’s team came together in their sophomore years and are now seniors, taking their last run before handing down the torch.

“[Quiz bowl] encourages quick thinking and educated guessing,” Gillies said. “With experience comes the ability to know which answer is more likely based on the way the question is going.”

Curiosity is another essential characteristic of these quiz bowl members, who all seem to have an innate passion for learning.

“You can’t really practice that or coach that, you just do that,” Sachdeva, who is the team captain, said.

Earlier in their season, the team was filmed for an episode of NBC’s quiz bowl show ‘It’s Academic.’ Sachdeva said the experience was special, both because they won and were able to watch themselves on television, but doesn’t consider it particularly significant.

Sachdeva said, “Getting up at six in the morning to go to some random high school, no suits, no cameras, for ten straight hours of competition, that’s what it’s really about.”