Buzzing into State


Scholars Bowl participants pose with their Regional Championship plaque after winning the 5A championship on Feb. 1.

Ann Pomeroy, Newtonian Editor-in-Chief

The NHS varsity Scholars Bowl team remains undefeated after a strenuous season of competition. On Feb. 1, NHS Scholars brought home the 2021 5A Regional Champions title and are currently State bound. This accomplishment could not have been achieved without the dedication and preparation of all students and coaches involved.

According to the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA), Scholars Bowl is an academic contest in which subject matter from a variety of categories such as Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science and Physical Education/Health are used for head to head academic team competition. Junior Madeline Duncan, a fifth-year Scholars Bowl participant, further describes the competition as a multiple round event in which two teams of up to five participants compete by buzzing in correct answers of approximately 16 questions which count for 10 points each. Different factors go into winning a tournament but generally teams are either put into bracket play, a round-robin or simply whichever team wins the most rounds.

“I decided to come back to the team this year because I really enjoy getting to participate with everyone on the team and learn new information,” Duncan said. “It gave me something to look forward to this year with the shutdown and everything.”

Throughout the season, the team faced many challenges due to the pandemic. Team sizes were smaller than in previous years, fewer meets were available to compete in as well as some were required to be hosted virtually. The team, however, was able to overcome the adversity presented before them for a successful and memorable season.

“Dealing with some of the transition between in-person and virtual meets has probably been the biggest challenge,” Duncan said. “It feels a lot different participating in the different formats, as well as the additional technology issues that come with virtual tournaments, so there’s been a bit of a learning curve.”

Junior Ethan Neufeld, a fifth-year Scholars Bowl participant, says that in the history of NHS Scholars Bowl, there has never been a better time to win regionals than now. He says that the team has placed third or above in the vast majority of the competitions they have competed in this season. They won the varsity meets at Moundridge, Hesston, Wichita West, Wichita East, Hays, Goessel and Trinity Academy. As well as placing second at league in both varsity and junior varsity. The team also placed third in one of the most competitive tournaments in the state hosted at Bishop Carroll and at an elite team varsity meet hosted at Wichita Collegiate.

“This has been our most successful year by far,” Neufeld said. “We have a very skilled team, and a well-rounded one as well. There are no major areas of study in which our team can not compete at a competitive level, which hasn’t always been true [in preceding years].”

Although the team has had a great deal of success, Scholars Bowl is not an activity of perfection. None of the team’s top competitors have accuracies above 64%. The team’s ability to encourage one another and work together as a team is truly what sets them apart from their competitors. 

“You will mess up, over and over again. If nothing else, Scholars Bowl has taught me how to be confident in what I think, how to be decisive in stressful situations and how to think quickly,” Neufeld said. “Scholars Bowl is a great way to grow into a more confident person, and have a ton of fun along the way.”

Approximately half of the varsity team’s active members are seniors and therefore one of the team’s goals for next year is to focus on training and building leadership amongst the upperclassmen who remain in order to continue their success for years to come. This means preparing underclassmen for varsity level competition and the recruitment of new members.

“People should definitely consider joining the team because it is a lot of fun and the scheduling makes it easy to participate even if you do other activities,” Duncan said. “A lot of people think it’s hard, but once you get started it can be more laid back and becomes a lot of fun! We love for people just to come attend a practice or two to see how everything works. No participation is required, we just want to get the word out and get anyone who might be interested involved.”

Duncan and Neufeld encourage any interested student to give Scholars Bowl a chance. Not only are participants able to build relationships with other students on the team but the majority are often pleasantly surprised with their abilities. Each member contributes their own strengths for the betterment and success of the team as a whole.  

“In seventh grade when I joined I thought it would be super boring, like a test, but I was very wrong,” Neufeld said. “The energy, the adrenaline, and the risk involved are something else. The competitive aspect of it grants the activity it’s energy and the amazing people you meet, it’s enjoyability.”

As the team prepares for their run at the State title, they would like to recognize those who have helped them along the way. Without the collaboration of the team and its coaches, members say that they never would have persevered through the many challenges of 2020 and been as successful as they have been able to. 

“This wouldn’t be complete without thanking our coaches,” Neufeld said. “Mr. Kopper, Mr. [Adam] Williams, and Mr. Skinner have put in more work than I know to make sure we had an amazing season this year. Specifically, Mr. Skinner, our head coach has been on top of the ball in getting us meets, keeping track of our stats so we know where we need to improve and how, and providing us with practices and study material to up our game. We wouldn’t be where we are now without them.”