February 23, 2018 : By Drew Menard
Liberty University’s Quiz Bowl team swept through the Big South Conference (BSC), averaging more than 350 points per match, en route to capturing its 11th championship title in 13 years last weekend at High Point University. Liberty extends its conference championship streak to four, going undefeated in the Big South since 2014.
Liberty was trailed by second-place Presbyterian, which averaged 238.8 points per match, and Gardner-Webb, High Point, and Radford, respectively. Over the season, Liberty posted a team-record 55 wins, including impressive victories over non-conference foes Virginia Tech (11 wins), the University of Virginia (four), and Johns Hopkins (three). Liberty also scored two wins apiece over Wake Forest and Maryland as well as wins over Princeton, Duke, North Carolina, and Georgetown.
The team has an opportunity to pad its win total at tournaments in March and April.
Liberty’s varsity squad includes three seniors — captain Mark Whitten, Leah DiPiero, and Kristian Myrdal — who have each been with Quiz Bowl for four years. Each has spent three of those years on the varsity squad, anchoring the team as it secured numerous wins and maintained a spotless BSC record.
“It is an incredible privilege to be able to represent not only Liberty University in competition, but also to be able to represent Christ to quizzers from other schools who may not know Him,” Whitten said. “It is awesome to see how much God has blessed our team over the years that I have been here, and it was amazing to be able to cap that off with a title.”
He gives credit to their coach, Dr. Jim Nutter, who also heads Liberty’s Honors Program.
“The countless hours that he has sacrificed to pour into us as a team, combined with his incredibly godly spirit, have been so encouraging and inspiring to me as a student, and I am so thankful for his example.”
Myrdal added that Quiz Bowl has been “the most important part of my time at Liberty.”
“The friendships I made freshman year through Quiz Bowl have stuck for years. … I've always enjoyed the trivia, obscure knowledge sort of stuff, and getting to compete and traveling with great friends while doing it has been amazing.”
Capping the season with a conference win was “big,” he added.
“I don't think the emotional weight of it has fully hit me, but the drive back from the tournament was just hours of reminiscing about past trips and past tournaments, inside jokes and classic questions we've answered over the year.”
DiPiero said she appreciates the community between Big South schools, who had dinner together the night before the tournament.
“It was exciting to come to college and find something that I did relatively well in and really enjoyed,” DiPiero said. “Quiz Bowl is also where I’ve made some of my closest friends and some of my best memories throughout college, and I’m really grateful for that.”
Quiz Bowl, often called “the varsity sport of the mind,” is part of Liberty’s rigorous Honors Program and includes players from a variety of degree programs. Competitions resemble the game show “Jeopardy!,” with teams buzzing in to answer questions on literature, history, geography, government, the sciences, math, art, popular culture, and sports.
Big South Conference Tournament
1. Liberty University (4-0)
2. Presbyterian University (3-1)
3. Gardner-Webb University (1-3)
4. High Point University (1-3)
5. Radford University (1-3)