The Quiz Bowl team, which was founded in October by freshman president Samhita Kumar and adviser Chris Kuipers, has already competed in two competitions and qualified for nationals.

Kumar said she started participating in Quiz Bowl at Winston Churchill Middle School (4900 Whitney Ave., Carmichael) after a demonstration from Bruce Hansen, her science teacher, and the team’s coach.

“I thought it was very interesting, and when I first tried it, the thrill of trying to figure out the right answer made me want to keep playing,” Kumar said.

“I thought it was very interesting, and when I first tried it, the thrill of trying to figure out the right answer made me want to keep playing.”

—Samhita Kumar

Kumar said her enjoyment of Quiz Bowl in middle school led her to begin the club at Country Day.

“There wasn’t a Quiz Bowl team here, which was something I was really excited to do in high school,” Kumar said. “So I thought, why not just start a team here? And then I did it.”

The club doesn’t have a set schedule yet, but it has had multiple meetings in which members answer questions that are asked in the unique Quiz Bowl style.

In Quiz Bowl, two teams of four players are each asked 20 “toss-up” questions. These are multiple-sentence questions that become easier to answer as each question is read. Team members push a buzzer to answer the questions individually. When a team gets a “toss-up” correct, it answers three bonus questions related to one topic. During the bonus questions, team members may converse before answering.

The Quiz Bowl team did well in its first two competitions despite being short-handed.

Only Kumar attended the first competition on Nov. 9 in San Jose, placing fifth individually in the novice category, based upon how many “toss-up” questions she got right. Even though she was competing alone, she played against four-player teams.

In the team’s second competition on Dec. 21 at Winston Churchill, senior Spencer Scott joined Kumar. The team placed second to earn a spot in the Small School National Championship Tournament, April 24-26 in Rosemont, Illinois. Individually, Kumar placed second and Scott third.

“I think it’s truly extraordinary that our two-person team made it to nationals,” Kuipers said. “Overall, I’m really thrilled for Samhita and Spencer.”

Scott said he joined the Quiz Bowl team because he has always enjoyed trivia.

“I also have always watched ‘Jeopardy!,’ which is similar to Quiz Bowl,” Scott said. “Overall, it’s just really cool to learn.

“I really enjoyed the competition. We had this great underdog feeling.”

Scott’s biggest concerns are the sports and science topics.

“Samhita and I know a lot about all the (other) topics,” Scott said. “For sports, it’s not that big of a deal because those questions are less frequent. (But) there are a lot of science questions, meaning either we need to learn more about science or we need to get someone on the team who does.”

Scott said he wants to continue competing but has one problem.

“It’s hard for me to get to the competitions because a lot of them are pretty far away, such as in the Bay Area,” Scott said.

Kumar, meanwhile, said her biggest worry is juggling both the club and her schoolwork, although she said it will be manageable.

“I’m not too worried because I don’t spend too much time studying for Quiz Bowl — on average two to three hours a week,” Kumar said.

Kuipers said the club is almost entirely student-run.

“Samhita has really done everything for this club,” Kuipers said. “This year I have had a lot going on, so Samhita has had to be in control of everything. Next year, I plan to have a more active role so I can help the club grow.”

Kumar said she wants the club to be fun.

“The competitions are very fun and thrilling,” said Kumar. “I want more people to join so we can have two full teams and do real scrimmages during electives.”

—By Dylan Margolis

Originally published in the Feb. 4 edition of the Octagon.

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