WUAT qualifies for national competition

John Scott
Ryan Jacobson

Washington University recently qualified for two national competitions on the college quiz bowl circuit. The University’s quiz bowl organization qualified two teams for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) format’s national championship and won the College Bowl International (CBI) Regional Tournament to qualify the CBI team for the CBI format’s national tournament.

The Washington University Academic Team (WUAT), which competes in trivia-style competitions against teams from other schools, sent a team to CBI’s regional qualifying tournament at Wichita State University and won the entire tournament decisively to qualify for the CBI National Championship Tournament (NCT).

The CBI team of graduate student Gordon Arsenoff, senior Andrew Brantley and sophomores Neel Kotra and Laura Soderberg will travel to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. in April to compete in the CBI NCT.

Sometimes, multiple teams will be entered in a tournament; in the NAQT sectional tournament, which was held at the University of Chicago, WUAT sent three teams. One of the teams qualified in Division I, which includes more experienced players. WUAT entered two teams in Division II, which is the division for less experienced players, and one of the Division II teams qualified for NAQT’s national tournament by winning the entire Division II bracket.

“Division I is generally more competitive. The team that won Division II this year will move up to Division I [next year],” said Kotra.

Players who go to nationals for Division II are no longer eligible to compete at that level the next year and must move up to Division I, according to Kotra.

The team of Arsenoff, Kotra, Soderberg and junior Ben Hofstetter competed in Div. I, placing second in the Div. I bracket only to the University of Illinois and gaining a bid for the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament (ICT), which will be held at Washington University the weekend of April 11.

For the Div. II team of sophomores Jason Shields and Puneet Kollipara and freshmen Tianhui Shen and John Ahlfield, qualifying for the NAQT ICT in Div. II was a more arduous task. Five teams tied for first place in Division II, resulting in a messy playoff to break the tie.

In the playoff, the Div. II team won its semifinal over the University of Chicago. After trailing early, the team reeled off five straight questions to cruise to victory.

The team’s final match against the University of Michigan came down to the very last question. By correctly answering the final question of a tense final match, the team edged Michigan by the smallest possible margin, five points, securing an automatic bid to NAQT nationals in Div. II for the second straight year for WUAT.

The last time the team won the CBI regional tournament was two years ago, and the team is excited about its recent success.

A third WUAT Div. II team also fared well, going 9-5 in preliminary play, but it did not qualify for NAQT nationals.

Brantley noted that the team has many new members and that it is fun to see the team perform well even with new members.

“I’m very pleased. Two years ago we went on to place third in the [CBI] national tournament. It’s good to see us doing well [this year],” said Brantley.

The team practices primarily by reviewing old questions about the topics that are covered in tournaments. According to Brantley, the team uses the same format for practices that tournaments use in order to prepare for upcoming tournaments.

Senior Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld has been on the team for four years. According to Steinert-Threlkeld, the questions include current events, literature, geography and science. Steinert-Threlkeld says that the team makes sure that they are aware of one another’s strengths in order to field a balanced team.

“We all know each other’s strengths, so the team is balanced,” said Steinert-Threlkeld.

According to Kotra, the president of the team, the team members’ strengths show in practices, and teams are put together so they will be able to answer a wide variety of questions. Kotra says that questions include nearly all types of information found in a college classroom.

“We get a feel for who knows what. The teams for the tournaments are balanced that way. I know more science and math. Another player will know more art history,” said Kotra.

Although the team qualified for nationals in the CBI format two years ago, it has been several years since the team qualified for the national competition in both formats.

According to Kotra, the style of play is different in each format due to differences in the questions.

“NAQT has longer questions that take more time to develop,” said Kotra.

On the other hand, CBI format, according to Kotra, has shorter questions and moves faster.

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