Quiz bowl kids at Woodland excel




BEACON FALLS — The Woodland Regional High School Quiz Bowl Team has put the small school on the school quiz bowl map.

Recently graduated Woodland Regional High School seniors and quiz bowl team members, from left, Kenneth Arnold, Brian O’Connell and Evan Lin, with Quiz Bowl coach Nancy Manning, stand in front of the quiz bowl trophies they won during this past school year at the high school.

The quiz bowl team of the regional high school, which serves students in Beacon Falls and Prospect, had 14 students including eight seniors this year. However three seniors, Brian O’Connell, Evan Lin and Kenneth Arnold, were the heart of the team who attended regularly all year and coached by Woodland Regional High School English teacher Nancy Manning.

The team went to 22 quiz bowl competitions including three national competitions, between Sept. 24 until June 10. In the first fall tournament, the team placed first but for the rest of the regular competitions, the team usually placed in second or third place.

For the first national competition in Chicago, the quiz bowl team placed third in the school’s first small school national championship tournament run by National Academic Quiz Tournaments. About 77 teams were present in the competition. In the second NAQT national high school championship tournament, Woodland tied for 65th place out of 304 teams in Atlanta. For the third national competition run by Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence back in Chicago, Woodland placed 23rd overall but second as a small school out of 72 teams, O’Connell said.

The quiz bowl team has received 9 trophies from this school year worth of competitions and expected a 10th trophy with the names of O’Connell, Lin and Arnold on it.

Quiz bowl is similar to the TV quiz show Jeopardy.

“Usually out of a set of 20 questions, there’s usually four science questions, four literature questions, four history questions, three fine arts, one modern culture and one religion, one mythology, one social science and one philosophy,” Lin said.

Manning said it can be four players against one but these three players were the golden number as many seniors couldn’t make it to other tournaments. The three players were up against four, fix or six opposing players. Six players can be used for a tournament.

“There are a total of four national tournaments and this is the first time in our school history that we qualified for all four,” Manning said. “So to qualify for a national championship, that means that you had to do well in a tournament during the year that they sponsor.”

The Woodland team was only able to attend three out of the four national tournaments due to conflicting dates. The players’ preparation was instrumental to their success, Manning said.

“We studied, especially a lot over the summer and obviously throughout the school year,” Lin said.

Manning said the three students started as soon as the school year ended last year with the goal in mind to attend a qualify for as many national tournaments as they could.

“They worked their butts off. They’d be up in the lunch cafeteria, eating lunch and they’d be reading questions and quizzing each other,” Manning said. “Every free moment these three guys had, they would be working on these national tournament questions.”

O’Connell said he studied science most of the year and his main categories regarding the quiz bowl were science as well as economics, psychology and philosophy. Lin said he generally studied everything but focused on studying literature, history, audio fine arts which are classic music and opera. Arnold mostly studied fine arts, mythology, religion and some pop culture.

The students plan to bring their passion for quiz bowl to their next journeys at higher education.

O’Connell, who will be studying aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at Daytona Beach, Florida, said his school doesn’t have a quiz bowl team but plans to start one.

Lin, who will study math and physics at the University of Minnesota, said he definitely plans to play quiz bowl for them.

Arnold, who will study computer science at the University of Connecticut, said he hopes to be part of their quiz bowl team.

O’Connell said he thinks the team has a lot to be proud of. It’s quite the feat that for the students to only be studying for about a year and then go to all these national competitions, make the playoffs and place high at all of them as well. Their team ranked top three in the state but were state champions this year.

“We came out of basically being unheard of as a school to being known around the (quiz bowl) community as a team that is strong,” O’Connell said. “Inside of ranking of all the teams in the Northeast, I think we ranked sixth as team out of about 100 to 200 schools and that’s ranked by our peers.”