By Michelle Miller
---- — The Cooperstown High School Quiz Team went three-and-three in the national tournament in Washington D.C. last year.
The goal is to do better this year, according to second-year adviser Timothy Iversen.
The chances of doing so are twice as good for the district because two of its teams have qualified to compete nationally.
“Going three-and-three was very good, especially considering a school our size, but I would like one of my teams to be relevant on Sunday (the final day of the tournament), which means we have to go four-and-two,” Iversen said.
“It would be great to get both teams there. I would love to win it all, but realistically, I would be very happy if we got one team into the final day,” he continued.
To qualify for the National Academic Championships, a team must win an academic competition (local or regional) of at least eight teams or finish in the top 15 percent of any tournament. The winning team from any preliminary round match in the Questions Unlimited QuizNet online tournament qualifies, as well as any team acing any one of Questions Unlimited’s monthly “20 Questions” quiz online. Any school making the playoffs at last year’s National Academic Championship automatically qualifies. Wild card entry may be offered to teams that wish to apply to compete at the National Academic Championship.
The Cooperstown teams qualified with results from the Catskill Area School Study Council Upstate Academic Competition at the State University College at Oneonta. One team, made up of all seniors, won the tournament. The other team, a mix of juniors, sophomores and freshman faced the senor team in the semifinals and lost.
All teams played three rounds to see which ones would get to play in the tournament and to determine ranking, according to Iversen.
“Both my teams went 3-0, which was nice,” Iversen said. “They were ranked second and third going into the afternoon. The only thing that was bad about being ranked second and third was they had to play each other after each won quarterfinal matches.”
It was a pretty close match, but at the end the seniors pulled away a bit, Iversen said.
The seniors played Oneonta in the finals.
“It was a great match,” Iversen said. “Cooperstown had a little bit of a lead going into the fourth period and Oneonta stormed back with five questions left and a five point game. This meant one question would put you over the top. One of our players, Tommy Franck pulled two clutch questions and that got us the win. It was a real nail-biter.”
On the way home from the national competition last year, Jacob Miller, who is captain of this year’s squad, said he hoped to get back to so the team could improve on its record.
“We did go three-and-three, which is respectable considering it was the first time quizzing for many of the team members,” he said.
“One thing we learned from this competition, and probably from other sports, is we do not like to lose,” he continued.
The National Academic Championships are held at three locations — New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
The plan is to send both teams to D.C. depending on approval by the Board of Education, Iversen said. The D.C. competition is held from May 31 to June 2.
He said he plans to keep an all-senior team when competing at the national level.
“They are a very well-balanced team,” he said. “They cover all the areas pretty well between the five of them.”
The younger team will be able to get more experience and playing time that way too, Iversen said.
“I’d like to see the younger team win two or three matches. That would be fantastic,” he added.
No matter the results, Iversen said the trip is a worthwhile adventure for the students. He said there will be opportunity for the students to see some historical sites and museums.
To help fund the trip, the team will invite community members to form teams to compete during a one-day quiz tournament at the school. Those interested in participating may contact Iversen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iversen said Oneonta has also qualified a team for nationals and there has been talk about possibly sharing a bus to help on travel costs.
According to the National Academic Championship website, the competition focuses on academic information — “significa” rather than “trivia” — and the questions are supplied by Questions Unlimited. Emphasis is light on popular culture and heavy on the academic. Contests follow the four-quarter format created by Questions Unlimited.
“It is nice to see kids getting recognized for academics,” Iversen said. “It is easy to get kids recognized for music and sports and even the arts, but it is hard to get them recognized for academics.”
Cooperstown sent a team to New Orleans to compete in nationals in 2010. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but the team finished the preliminary rounds with a record of 5-1. CCS did not compete in the first round of the semifinals because it was given a bye, and lost to a sixth-ranked prep school from Alabama team in the second round. In 2008, CCS was represented in nationals, but only won one match.