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Competition summons inner intellect

By Liz Schettle
posted 7:41:20 AM CST, Dec 17, 2004

Several West students recently gathered to flex their mental muscles in the Knowledge Master Open (KMO), held at West on December 8. A smaller group of eight competitors departed for U.W. Madison Saturday, December 4.

Knowledge Master coach Joyce Wolff described the scene as a controlled, rapid-fire question session.

“It is very fast-paced and every question is important,” she said. “This type of competition showcases the talents of the scholarly student. The questions are based on the core areas of academic study as well as literature and the arts.”

Quiz bowler and KMO competitor Lucas Everett, junior, enjoyed the pressure in Madison.

“The competition is both exciting and fun. It is very fast-paced and every question is important since correct answers on toss-up questions lead to bonus questions which really determine the outcome of the match.”

Inspired by the KMO’s mascot, the great auk, team members shot through questions like hundreds of others throughout the state.

“We sat in the little theater and answered trivia questions together,” senior member Matt Underwood said. “You have two chances per question and one minute each; the earlier you answer the more points the team receives.”

Wolff enhanced the team’s chances of winning by handing out extra studying materials and holding practices every day after school. The school has also aided in the success of the two groups.

“We practice for two weeks, every night before competitions. I also hand out study materials on areas where we seem to be weak,” she said. “For the very serious competitors, the West library has recently purchased recommended books which contain information useful to quiz bowl competitors.”

To be successful in the tournament, however, individual studying is necessary.

“I review my text books and encyclopedias the night before the tournament,” said Everett. “The biggest thing is practice. It’s usually not whether or not you know it, but how fast you can recall the information.”

Wolff led the team into battle against some of the consistently succesful schools.

“Conserve [High School] has become the leader,” said Wolff. “They’ve become the ‘team to beat’ in recent years. Their school puts a lot of emphasis on academics. They even have uniforms, and at least two coaches.”

The benefits of being a Knowledge Master greatly exceed the advantage of the high school realm.

“If you get first or second place, you can go to nationals,” said Wolff. “Several of our students have joined Quiz Bowl teams on their college campuses. Many students who have participated in these competitions have gone on to win big in television quiz shoes, and Ken Jennings (Jeopardy) is one of these.”

Quiz Bowl members have a promising future to look forward to after the competition.

“It looks great on college applications and work resumes,” said Everett.

Wolff recently received results from the competition and had mixed emotions considering the placements.

“(For Quiz Bowl) Rufus King, Conserve, and Wausau took the top three places. Our two teams took home fourth and fifth,” she said. “(For KMO) James Madison in Madison, Rufus King from Milwaukee, Appleton North, then us and we did beat Conserve. They’ll be coming after us in the spring competition.”

Team member Corey Edwards was satisfied with the results, given the void left from the academic goliaths of last year.

“We didn’t do as great as last year, but OK considering the loss of Collin Stecker, Stephen Neal, Jon Tsao, and Cole [Edwards].”

Although not possessing the same number of extraordinary members, they pulled together as a team to be successful. Wolff is especially looking forward to spring to face up against the northern rival.

“They worked well as a team, had a good attitude and great sportsmanship,” she said. “There is another competition in April at which time we will beat Appleton North.”

The second competition is historically more successful because of the increase in experience.

“I think the spring will be better with the more education and more knowledge, we’ll have kids that will help us with Euro and Geology,” Edwards said.

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