GCS Students Shine at National Quiz Bowl Tournament

Early College at Guilford Quiz Bowl Team Two Quiz Bowl teams from Guilford County Schools’ Early College at Guilford showed they can take on the nation’s top ranked teams when they placed 13th and 34th out of 272 in the 2015 Quiz Bowl National Championship Tournament in Chicago this past weekend.

Quiz Bowl tests students’ knowledge on history, literature, science, math, fine arts, current events, sports and pop culture. The magnitude of information the competing students amass and the speed at which they remember it can only be described as jaw-dropping.

During Quiz Bowl tournaments, two teams of four players compete head-to-head, with individuals buzzing in to answer “toss-up” questions on a range of topics. With a correct answer, the team can earn extra points by collaborating on three bonus questions. The national tournament is particularly fast-paced as matches last only 18 minutes, with teams attempting to answer 24 toss-up questions and 72 bonus questions. Twenty-six matches are played over two days.

“The excitement at nationals, with all the teams there who care about a hobby/sport/event like we do, is at the top of my list of thrills,” says Paul Smith, Early College at Guilford team coach. “I’m proud of how far our program has progressed in only a few years, to the point where we’ve got many great players who are willing to work together to be a power at the national level.”

This year’s showing in Chicago marks the school’s sixth year at the national tournament, where the best teams across the U.S. and Canada compete. Teams earn bids to participate by performing well in qualifying tournaments. With strong showings against top competitors throughout the season, the Early College at Guilford’s “A team” earned the North Carolina state title in March, defeating Raleigh Charter High School in a close match.

Top scorer for Early College at Guilford at the national tournament was senior Ziad Ali, team captain, who placed 76th out of 1,387 competitors. He and his three teammates—seniors Vanessa Okoyeh, Elizabeth Smith, and Jared Taylor—tied for 13th place overall.

“We’ve all known each other since we started Quiz Bowl together four years ago,” says Ali. “We have a good team dynamic—that helped us in a difficult competition where some matches came down to the last question. Four years of hard work went into our performance at nationals, and our success was a team effort.”

That team, he adds, includes Coach Smith. “Our program is relatively new, and Mr. Smith has gone above and beyond to make it a strong program in a short time period. We’re grateful for that. We owe our success to him.”

“It means a great deal to me to accompany a team to nationals,” says Coach Smith. “It’s even better when the team has a great result, like we did this year. It’s bittersweet, though, because I know I’ll be leaving four seniors I’ve worked with for four years. I hope what they learned in their four years will carry them to great things in their future.”

Early College at Guilford’s “B team”—juniors Pratham Chhabria, Jack Crouse, Stefano Romano, sophomore Grey Howard and freshman Tejas Santanam—also finished strong in the tournament. Only one other school had a B team finish higher than ECG’s 34th place (tied) finish.

“I’m extremely proud of our B team’s performance, considering only one of the players has competed at nationals before,” says Coach Bryan Haywood. “They showed a great deal of improvement throughout the year, and I’m excited to see what they can accomplish next year.”