Quiz Bowl Team to Compete in National Tournament
Four seniors make up the first Wahoo team to qualify
Sam Crisler, Wahoo NewspaperNathan Eriksen, Lukus Forbes, Seth Obert and Jesse Stebbing, all seniors, make up the Wahoo Quiz Bowl Team.
Originally appeared in the Wahoo Newspaper article written by Sam Crisler.
Before Nov. 18, the Wahoo High School quiz bowl team didn’t know a trip to nationals was on the table.
The team, made up of seniors Nathan Eriksen, Lukus Forbes, Jesse Stebbing and Seth Obert, approached the Nebraska Invitational at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln only with goals of competing hard and winning a few matches. Then word started swirling between bouts about the ultimate prize of earning a trip to the national competition in Chicago.
“We didn’t know it really existed until we were at that competition in Lincoln,” Forbes said.
But once they found out what the stakes were, they made their goal for the day to reach nationals. To qualify, the Wahoo team didn’t need to finish first, just in the top 15% of their division — a group that included large, metro-area high schools. At the end of the day, the Wahoo team wasn’t sure they’d done that.
“They were walking down the hall, and they just had the most dejected look on their faces,” coach Heidi Adams said. “I tried to tell them, ‘You guys did great.’ And then I get the email about a week later that they qualified.”
In April, the team will make the trip to Chicago for the NAQT (National Academic Quiz Tournaments) Small School National Championship Tournament. Small schools are defined as having 500 or fewer students in grades 10 to 12. It’s the first time Adams can recall that a Wahoo team has made nationals.
When the boys were asked if they expected to have a chance to compete at the national level when the Quiz Bowl season began, the answer was a resounding “no.”
But the four Wahoo seniors are all Quiz Bowl veterans at this point — Eriksen, in his third year on the team, has the least experience. They all joined the team mostly for fun and to test their ability to extract information from the annals of their brains.
“I’ve always liked reading and expanding my knowledge and just general trivia,” Forbes said. “(Quiz Bowl) just sort of gives me a way to apply that to a more competitive environment.”
“And I’ve learned all this niche stuff over the years, I may as well use it,” Stebbing said.
Each team member is an avid learner in his own right, and they’ve all found their own specialty within the team. Forbes is a politics buff, Stebbing can rattle off physics, biology and geography answers, Eriksen’s historical knowledge runs deep, and Obert answers the tough questions about classical music.
“I’ve also been trying to study a lot more of the literature stuff, because that’s definitely what we’re worst at,” Obert said.
He helped the team’s cause recently by correctly answering a question about the nationality of “Kafka on the Shore” author Haruki Murakami, who hails from Kyoto.
And Forbes’ obsession with politics and political figures came in handy when he was asked to name politicians who have died on planes, which included Alaska congressman Don Young.
Each team member gathers trivial facts from different sources — Forbes from sites like Politico and Obert from a Quiz Bowl simulator site called QuizDB. Eriksen credited much of what he knows to his classes at school.
Adams said all of the Quiz Bowl matches and trivia memorization over the years has led to the team’s national tournament berth.
“They may not realize it, but they’ve been working on it for years,” she said.
It will be the first time any of the team members will explore Chicago, too. The farthest any of them have gotten in the Windy City is a Midway airport terminal. The tournament will take place over the weekend of April 26, which should allow the chance to escape the O’Hare Hilton hosting the competition.
But in competition, the team’s approach won’t change much — they’ll just do what has worked.
“We’ll all just try to keep with our specializations and just push as far as we can,” Forbes said.