By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — The Cooperstown Quiz Team has qualified for three national championship tournaments, and has its eye on qualifying for a fourth.
“It takes a little bit of the pressure off,” said coach Timothy Iversen.
Cooperstown Quiz Team A qualified Cooperstown for the NAQT 2014 High School National Championship Tournament by placing second in the Second Annual BrainBusters Fall Tournament, hosted by Ithaca High School on Dec. 7. Its performance also earned the school an invite to the NAQT 2014 Small School National Championship Tournament, and the PACE National Scholastic Championship.
The BrainBusters tournament featured 21 teams and 12 rounds. Four of these teams were from Cooperstown High School, which fielded the largest number of teams in the tournament. The tournament was supposed to have more teams, but weather kept some schools away.
Iversen divided the 22 students who chose to travel to the tournament into the four teams.
“I usually try to build my A team as my strongest team,” said Iversen.
He also said that he built the D team out of his youngest players, and tried to create two balanced teams out of the remaining students. Quiz teams in the NAQT format can have up to six players, but only four can play in the competition at a time.
Cooperstown Quiz Team A went undefeated for nine rounds, losing in the finals to tournament champions Ithaca Quiz Team A. Cooperstown Quiz Teams B, C and D placed 12th, 21st and 13th respectively.
The members of Cooperstown Quiz Team A for the tournament were Claire Dohner, Joey Katz, Michael Kern, Sean Mebust and Jacob Russell. The members of Cooperstown Quiz Team B were Grant Davine, Patrick Dewey, Renee Friedman, Eli S, Nate Wilcox and David Zolick. The members of Cooperstown Quiz Team C were Kevin Frevele, Sky Gann, Grace Heneghan, Tae Livermore and Michael Perrino. The members of Cooperstown Quiz Team D were Lindsay Brown, Scott Curtis, Alex Greenberg, Regina Lassiter, Ethan Russell and Philip Wasson.
BrainBusters was held using the NAQT format, a quiz bowl format that is new for the CCS Quiz Team.
“This is the first year we’ve actually competed in the NAQT matches,” said Iversen.
The NAQT format, like other quiz bowl formats, features a lock out buzzer systems, where students compete to be the first to correctly answer questions on academic subjects such as science, history and literature. The student who presses their buzzer first locks others out from answering. Matches are played by two teams going head to head.
The questions in the NAQT format are pyramidal, meaning that they contain multiple clues, and a team gets extra points for answering them early. If a team answers one of these tossup questions correctly they then get to answer a three part bonus question, which team members can confer among themselves about. If a team gets a tossup question wrong, however, the opposing team gets to hear the question in its entirety, which generally results in a correct guess from the other team. The team that guessed wrong also loses points. No points are lost when guessing wrong on a bonus question.
The team will compete next at the State University College at Oneonta on Jan. 7. There will be another tournament there in March, as well as a tournament at Tompkins Cortland Community College in March.
All three of these tournaments use the Questions Unlimited quiz bowl format, a faster format than the NAQT format according to Iversen.
Iversen said that he believes that a strong performance at any of these three tournaments will qualify them for Questions Unlimited’s 2014 National Academic Championship, which CCS has been to for the last two years. CCS qualified for these tournaments by winning tournaments at SUNY Oneonta two years in a row.
Qualifying again this year would mean that CCS could choose to go to any of four national championships.
Iversen said that what Nationals tournament(s) they choose to go to will depend on their fund raising, but that attending the NAQT Small School National Championship Tournament in Bloomington M.N. from May 2 to 4 is at the top of their list.
“We’re really glad there’s a small school tournament this year,” said Iversen, who said that this was the first year this tournament was being held.
He said that smaller schools like CCS often faced challenges competing against bigger schools at larger tournaments, as players from larger schools often focus entirely on quiz team for their extracurriculars, while those from smaller schools often do other extracurricular activities, such as sports and theater.
“My goal is to go pretty deep into the field,” said Iversen, when asked about his plans at the national tournament(s).
Iversen said that he would probably send the A team that placed second at BrainBusters to the Small Schools Championship, but since that team had only five members, there was a slot open for a sixth team member to join them.
The CCS Quiz Team also participated this year in “Double Down,” WCNY’s academic quiz show. CCS was still alive in the show as of the program’s last broadcast.
Iversen, the high school and middle school band teacher, went to school at CCS and participated in quiz team during his time as a student. He began coaching the team two years ago.
“I think the CCS Quiz Team has a good run ahead of it for awhile,” said Iversen.
He noted that his A Team had only one senior on it, and said that the quiz team had around 32 people currently participating.
“It’s open to any student who wants to participate,” said Iversen, who said that the team practices before class twice a week.
In order nurture up and coming talent, the quiz team will be hosting a middle school quiz bowl tournament this year. As a fundraiser, the team will also be hosting a quiz bowl tournament open to members of the community. The dates for both of these events have yet to be determined.
Iversen said that knowing trivia is something that can be handy throughout life.
“I want them (my students) to be the most interesting person in the room,” said Iversen, referring to being able to hold an engaging conversation at a party.
He also said that quiz bowl helps to highlight Cooperstown’s academics.
“This is a nice way (to highlight academics) that’s a little bit competitive and a lot of fun,” said Iversen.