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Quiz Bowl team scores four major wins at UVA tournament

November 4, 2013 : By Ted Allen/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University's 2013 Varsity A Quiz Bowl Team.
Members of Liberty University's Varsity A Quiz Bowl team (from left): Jon Bateman, Greta Hanks, Kaity Shondelmyer (captain), and Catherine Hardee.

Liberty University’s Varsity A Quiz Bowl team started and finished exceptionally well at Sunday’s 2013 Mid-Atlantic Academic Competition Federation Tournament, hosted by the University of Virginia.

In the opening match, Liberty edged Johns Hopkins University’s B team in overtime, 260-250, before defeating UVA’s C team in the final round of playoffs, 285-200.

“That was the first time we’ve ever played Johns Hopkins, and we’ve beaten UVA before, but only its novice team,” said Dr. Jim Nutter, Liberty’s Honors Program director and professor who also serves as the team’s coach. “Those were two really strong wins.”

Students fielded questions on an enormous range of information, “everything from literature to history to geography to music to pop culture, and a little bit of sports,” Nutter said.

Liberty’s Catherine Hardee, a graduate student studying history, correctly answered a question about the Huguenots to clinch the opening win in a sudden-death tie-breaker.

Hardee is in her fourth year on the team and previously competed on the debate team during her first two years at Liberty. In Sunday’s six preliminary-round matches, she was the team’s leading scorer with 225 points (37.5 points per game), ranking her 18th in scoring out of 72 players going into the playoffs.

Hardee was complemented by third-year member and team captain Kaity Shondelmyer and sophomores Jon Bateman and Greta Hanks, on the four-member Varsity A team. Shondelmyer and Hanks are both National Merit Finalists on full academic scholarships.

Liberty has won Big South Conference championships in seven of the past eight years, going undefeated the past four years in conference competition.

“We try to face better non-conference competition,” said Nutter, who noted the tournament at UVA is his favorite to attend because he earned one of his master’s degrees there in 2004, an Master of Education in gifted education. “This was the big one for the fall. A lot of these schools do have graduate students and law school students on them, so it was tough competition.”

Liberty went 2-4 in the preliminary standings and 1-3 in the playoffs to finish 3-7 on the day. After edging Johns Hopkins, Liberty lost to the University of Maryland, the tournament‘s overall team champion, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The Flames also soundly defeated Virginia Tech’s B team.

In the upper-section playoffs, Liberty lost a rematch with Johns Hopkins, 245-205.

“It was very close,” Nutter said. “It came down to the last few questions again.”

Liberty lost to Virginia Tech’s A team and VCU’s A team before ending the competition with the playoff victory over UVA.

Four of the 21 teams in three divisions were from Liberty, which also entered a Varsity B team and two novice squads.

“We brought more teams than anyone there, so we had a really good turnout,” Nutter said, noting Liberty’s B team beat Virginia Tech’s B team 165-40.

For the Big South Conference tournament championship on Jan. 25 at Longwood University, Liberty can only take one team, and it can only be made up of undergraduate students, so Nutter will have to find a replacement for Hardee.

The team practices from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Nutter said he is always searching for new contestants.

The next tournament is Nov. 17 at Virginia Tech, when Liberty could face rematches against the Hokies as well as VCU, Virginia, and Maryland.