No jeopardy of victory
Liberty’s Quiz Bowl Team wins its 10th Big South Conference championship
Liberty University’s Quiz Bowl Team won its 10th Big South Championship Saturday, Feb. 25 at Radford University after going undefeated in all four of its rounds against conference opponents.
Liberty defeated High Point University 305 to 115, Gardner-Webb University 500 to -15, Radford University 235 to 155 and Longwood 320 to 125 in a round-robin style tournament.
Liberty Quiz Bowl team members Leah DePiero and Kristian Myrdal were also ranked in third and fourth respectively in the overall individual competition.
The scoring system is based off a series of tossup questions that Liberty Honors Program Director and Quiz Bowl Coach Jim Nutter said are asked in a manner similar to the TV-show Jeopardy in which players who buzz in first have the opportunity to answer the question first.
Correct answers reward a team 10 points or 15 points if answered quickly enough, whereas buzzing in quickly and giving an incorrect answer can cost a team negative points.
Multiple-answer bonus questions that are worth up to 30 points are asked to the team who answers the previous tossup question correctly.
Question topics range across a broad curriculum that consists of literature, history, geography, government, science, math, art, pop culture and sports.
Any tossup or bonus question could cover one topic or a combination of topics, according to Nutter.
Since 2005 — when a quiz bowl tournament was first introduced to schools in the Big South Conference — Liberty has dominated the playing field, winning 10 of the 12 Big South Championships and being invited to the national Intercollegiate Championship Tournament two times out of the last four years.
“After this many years, we’re pretty much expected to win the Big South,” Nutter said.
“For most of the Big South schools, (the Big South Tournament) is the only tournament they go to, and for us, it was our sixth tournament this year.”
The Liberty Quiz Bowl team is separated into novice, junior varsity and varsity teams, with up to five members on each team.
The varsity team travels to the most tournaments, including the Big South Tournament, which only allows one team per school to participate.
Out of the six previous tournaments the Liberty Quiz Bowl Team participated in, many have been regional tournaments hosted at nearby universities such as the University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Tech and Duke.
In the National Academic Quiz Tournaments’ Mid-Atlantic Sectional competition hosted by UVA, Liberty’s A-team finished in 11th place and the B-team finished in 14th place out of 18 teams in the Division II bracket.
The teams combined for a total of eight wins, beating groups from schools including Georgetown, Washington & Lee and Johns Hopkins.
The Liberty teams’ placements, though, were not high enough to grant either of them invitations to the national tournament to be held in April in Illinois.
According to Nutter, a team usually must finish in the top three or four in their region to be granted a bid.
This year, teams from five different universities in Liberty’s region — Delaware, Maryland, Georgetown, Duke and Swathmore — were invited to the Division II national tournament.
The last time Liberty was invited to the national tournament was two years ago when the varsity team was ranked 14th in the country and fourth in their region, being placed over top state schools such as Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and the University of California San Diego.
When Liberty first qualified for the national tournament, its top player was Catherine Hardee, who later went on to become a four-time Jeopardy champion.
Hardee still visits Liberty when it hosts its quiz bowl alumni tournament late in the spring semester.
According to Nutter, attempting to qualify for the national tournament this year was more difficult because Liberty’s varsity team lacked a member who is especially knowledgeable in science.
He said recruiting a science-minded person is harder because of the busy schedule of science and pre-med students.
“Kristian is the closest thing we have to a science person,” Nutter said.
“He’s a history major that just knows a lot about science. He’s our ‘odds and ends’ kind of guy.”
The Liberty Quiz Bowl team also practices twice a week for an hour and a half where the novice, junior varsity and varsity teams play each other in scrimmages that resemble an actual quiz bowl round at a tournament.
“We’ve been practicing so long that our players know each other’s strengths, and that makes a big difference,” Nutter said.
“Other teams (in the Big South) just throw teams together at the last minute, and it really shows.”
Myrdal said the team has found scrimmages to be the best way to practice.
At first, when they were freshmen, he said some of the team members would get together to read and study content, but they soon learned it was not the most productive way to prepare for a tournament.
“As novices we thought it would be good to decide who is good at what and what everyone should study,” Myrdal said.
“But then we realized that it’s more about who already has the knowledge base in this subject.”
Even though Liberty failed to receive a bid to go to the national tournament, the team is scheduled to appear in the Roanoke Classic in April, a tournament where college students of all skill levels and college alumni face off in one large pool of teams.
Nutter said he is excited to attend the Roanoke Classic — it will be the first tournament where the novice, junior varsity and varsity teams all get the chance to participate in the same competition.
Myrdal, DePiero and Nutter all emphasized their excitement for next year even more, though.
Most of the current varsity team members are slated to return next year, meaning Liberty’s top team will come in with already a significant amount of experience.
The ultimate hope, Myrdal said, is to get Liberty back into nationals.
“Going to nationals would be the best thing,” Myrdal said.
“I’m not speaking for my teammates, but I’m just not super confident. There’s just some subjects that we’re lacking in that are standing in our way, but it would be a great experience.”
More information on Liberty’s Quiz Bowl Team and their Big South Championship can be found on the Honors Program tab on Liberty’s main website.