Knowledge Bowl team wins competition, advances to second round


Caroline Crews, Features Editor

On Dec. 1, five members of the OHS Quiz Bowl team competed in a competition in Memphis called Knowledge Bowl. Seniors Nitin Ankisetty, Shawn Chao, Tycho Jenkins, and Ash Hurdle, and junior Anish Ravishankar participated in the competition. The annual WREG Memphis News Channel 3 competition consists of 32 teams from the Memphis viewing area, and has five single-elimination rounds until it names a winning team. The competition will be aired on Channel 3 on Jan. 14.

This was the first year for OHS to participate. The OHS team won 270 to 105 against Cordova High School, and will be advancing to the next round.

“It feels pretty good as a rookie team to win this match, because the team that we faced was Cordova High School and they’ve been there in the past and they’ve had more experience than us,” Chao said. “We’ve only watched videos.”

According to WREG News Channel 3, the competition consists of curriculum-based and everyday life questions about science, literature, history, math, geography, music, art and current events.

“They will have anything from musicals, random authors, medieval history, to cutting edge science or current events,” said Ankisetty, the Knowledge Bowl team captain.

According to Ankisetty, the team had only practiced in a few Ole Miss quiz bowl competitions previously.

“We were kind of new to it,” Ankisetty said. “Until we got there, we didn’t know exactly how it would be, so it was intimidating. Almost all of the other teams had done it before, but this was our first year.”

OHS Assistant Principal Paul Ross instigated OHS’s participation in Knowledge Bowl.

“I thought it’d be a great experience for our kids, because our high school has never competed in it. It would give them an opportunity to get outside of Oxford and to have a chance to compete against the best and brightest from the Memphis area and a unique opportunity to compete on television which gets most 16 and 17-year-olds excited,” he said.

Ross was familiar with the competition because the school that he worked at previously, White Station High School, sends a team to the competition each year. Last Spring, he and Principal Bradley Roberson agreed to apply for the competition.

When OHS was accepted, he began the search for students to participate. He reached out to the OHS national merit finalists, and Ankisetty and Chao agreed to participate. Ravishankar was added to the team early on due to his prior performance in quiz bowl competitions, and Jenkins and Hurdle faced off for a spot on the team only three days before the competition. Jenkins took the final spot and Hurdle became the team’s alternate.

The team practiced five days a week during Flex. At the beginning of the year, the school purchased a buzzer system for them to practice with and a software that contained 190,000 quiz bowl questions that encompass a variety of subject areas.

Ross served as the team’s coach for Knowledge Bowl competition.

“We held a meeting every day in flex, so he meets five days a week and he kind of lets us come whenever we can,” Ankisetty said. “He’s been really committed, because meeting five times a week is a huge commitment so we actually studied a lot.”

According to both Ankisetty and Chao, the biggest difference between the Knowledge Bowl competition and other quiz bowl competitions that they have competed in is that this one will air on television. Ankisetty noted that the moderator, Channel 3 meteorologist Jim Jaggers, gave the team some helpful tips before getting in front of the camera.

“He kind of gave us some tips before starting,” Ankisetty said. “He was like, ‘Make sure to keep smiling’ and ‘Guess if you don’t know the answer’ and ‘Don’t make silly guesses.’ It was a bit intimidating, but it was fun because he told us before some general tips.”

Another major difference is that the Knowledge Bowl competition consists of four sections: two sections of toss-up questions and interspersed extra credit questions, one section of 10 questions called the pop quiz, and a final exam section with current events questions.  According to Ross, many of the current events questions focus on the Memphis area, so he helped keep the team abreast of current events in Memphis.

“Mr. Ross worked at White Station for a long time so he knows a lot about what happens in the Memphis area,” Ankisetty said. “The day before the competition we actually spent about 50 minutes to an hour talking about all the current events. Out of the things he randomly mentioned, almost four or five questions came up, so it was actually pretty amazing. We were pretty prepared for that part.”

During the extra credit questions and the pop quiz, all of the team members came together to discuss an answer. Hurdle, the alternate, had the opportunity to participate in the pop quiz.

“As far as the group questions go, we made sure to consult everyone and made sure that the final answer we told that everyone agrees with it,” Ankisetty said.

During the pop quiz, the losing team at the time, which was Cordova High School, had the opportunity to either choose or pass on the topic that they were given. If they passed, then the topic would go to the leading team. Cordova High School received periodic table abbreviations and OHS received the most populous city in different US states. Once the team missed a question, they were not given the chance to answer the rest.

“We got four right because we got kind of confused on South Carolina. We were debating between Charleston and Columbia. We went with Charleston, but it was Columbia,” Ankisetty said.

According to Chao and Ankisetty, each member of the team has priority on different categories of questions.

“We knew what each of our strengths were,” Chao said. “Anish is really good at geography, Tycho knows a lot of ancient history and also knows a lot of random geography, Nitin’s really good at biology and Chemistry, and I’m a math and physics guy.”

Ross, Ankisetty, and Chao agreed that the team is strong in math and science, but is deficient in literature, art, and music.

“That’s the deficiency we’re going to try to work on fixing over the break and starting for next year,” Chao said. “Fortunately this quiz bowl is not super intense where you have like eight to nine matches a day. You have like one match every two months so that’s pretty chill. We’ll definitely have a lot of time to try to patch up on some of the things that we’re not so good at.”

The team will compete again on Feb. 2 and will have the chance to advance to the next round of competition.  According to Ross, the team members each received $100 for competing, and will have the opportunity to gain more scholarship money as they advance further in the competition.

“That’s part of the motivation for us doing this competition is because college is really expensive and hopefully we can make it really far so we can get a lot of scholarship money,” Chao said.

That, however, is not Chao’s only motivation. He added that the main reason that he participates in quiz bowl competitions is because he enjoys them.

“I know that some people do competitions because they want to put it on their resume, but I do it honestly because I think it’s a lot of fun,” Chao said. “Quiz Bowl in general is just focused on so many different things. The trivia questions they ask, sometimes they’re very interesting to the point that even if I don’t get everything right, I will always learn something new every day.”