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Quiz Bowl team places 20th at first national tournament

April 2, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University Quiz Bowl team competed at its first national event in Chicago.
Liberty University Quiz Bowl team members (from left) are player-coach Jake Rogers, Catherine Hardee, Doug Stephens, Jon Bateman, Greta Hanks, captain Kaity Shondelmyer, and Honors Director and Coach Jim Nutter.

On Saturday, outside of Chicago, Liberty University’s Quiz Bowl team ventured where no previous team had gone before — the Intercollegiate Championship Tournament — where it tied for 20th in the Division II rankings.

“This was the first time that our Quiz Bowl team had ever flown to a tournament,” Liberty Honors Director and Quiz Bowl Coach Dr. Jim Nutter said.

Entering the tournament, held at the Hyatt Regency in Rosemont, Ill., near Chicago-O’Hare International Airport, Liberty was ranked 26th in points per game, qualifying it for nationals as one of the top 32 teams in the nation.

It moved up to 20th by earning six wins on Saturday, including a 315-195 decision over the University of Alabama, which placed 22nd, and a 165-145 triumph over Northeastern University (24th) by answering the last question correctly.

“Except for Virginia Tech, all the other teams we faced we had not competed against before,” Nutter said. “This was the first time we have competed against two Ivy League schools — Harvard (the overall team champion with a 13-1 record) and Columbia (ninth at 11-2).”

Liberty lost to both, but scored 190 points against Harvard and 185 points against Columbia. It finished higher than another Ivy League school, Cornell (25th at 7-6).

The team was placed in Division II because this was its first time at nationals. If it makes it back next year, it will compete in the Division I bracket, won by the University of Virginia, which hosted a tournament Liberty competed in last fall.

The six wins at nationals — Liberty also beat Truman State, 330-115; Broward, 300-35; Valencia 295-160; and Carleton, 340-55 — increased its team total to 39 for the season, an all-time record for the program.

Liberty team members were Catherine Hardee, a second-year history graduate student who ranked 14th out of 123 players in scoring, with a 50.35-point-per-game average; captain Kaity Shondelmyer, a junior biochemistry major who ranked 60th; Jon Bateman, a junior social sciences major who ranked 72nd; Jake Rogers, a senior computer science major who ranked 77th; Greta Hanks, a sophomore English and music major who ranked 80th; and Doug Stephens IV, a junior English major who ranked 109th. 

The tournament format consisted of games of two, 10-minute halves, with contestants answering a variety of questions on literature, history, geography, government, the sciences, math, art, popular culture, and sports. 

Hardee and Shondelmyer each earned five bonus points for scoring power plays — correctly answering questions in under a certain time limit before they were fully read — in the match against Harvard.