Academic Team heads to nationals

Mackenzie Mathews

The WKU Academic Competition Club will be making its second appearance at the National Quiz Bowl Tournament. It will take place in Chicago on March 29.

This is the first year the club has made it to the tournament as a Division I team, meaning it has qualified for nationals at least once before.

The team had to deal with unexpected challenges to qualify this year, Matthew Riggle, a sophomore team member from Madison, Ala., said.

On the morning of Feb. 9, the group set out with two teams for the NAQT Mideast Sectional Championship Tournament at the University of Kentucky. Icy roads caused one of the team’s cars to spin out to the median, enabling only one team to continue on to the tournament.

“Because of delays from the accident, they had to forfeit the first three rounds,” Riggle said. “Knowing that, we weren’t expecting to qualify at all.”

The team ended up tying for second place with a 6-4 record, thus qualifying for nationals. Its competition included the University of Louisville, the University of Alabama, Centre College and Wright State.

“We were pretty happy, because we actually played really well,” said team member and Owensboro freshman Ella Shipp. “We weren’t really certain because we got a 6-4, so it was really exciting that we made it in.”

As a whole, the team comprises 12 students, including Gatton Academy students and undergraduate and graduate students of various majors. This year, they have competed at Georgia Tech, the University of Alabama and the University of Kentucky.

WKU hosted a tournament Feb. 22 and finished third overall and first in the undergraduate division.

The club will prepare for nationals with weekly practices and individual study of material that may be covered. Questions can derive from any academic subject and are asked in a trivia-like manner.

“Part of it is being academically curious and reading and things like that,” Riggle said.

Each Quiz Bowl, or tournament, consists of toss-ups and bonuses. Toss-ups are questions that can be answered by anyone, and bonuses are a series of questions for the team that correctly answered the toss-up. Generally, there are around 10 teams in a tournament; the nationals will have 32.

There can be four players in a match with substitutes prepared between games, so the club plans to send around seven members, according to Shipp. All students who played at sectionals will attend.

“They were hoping to have fun and any results beyond that were icing on the cake,” Riggle said. “Honestly, we were in such shock and it’s just really, really exciting, because we were not expecting any of the day to turn out like it did, at all.”