Quiz bowl team reflects on successful season

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2015

QUIZ BOWL: The members of this St. Al’s 2014-2015 quiz bowl team were Charlie Martin, Adrienne Eckstein, Ken Cook, Katie Martin, Luke Eckstein (captain) and Jacob Kitchens.

QUIZ BOWL: The members of this St. Al’s 2014-2015 quiz bowl team were Charlie Martin, Adrienne Eckstein, Ken Cook, Katie Martin, Luke Eckstein (captain) and Jacob Kitchens.

After St. Aloysius’ quiz bowl team’s second year in a row to make it to the state semi-finals, they were narrowly defeated by 6A giant, Madison Central High School.
The team’s sponsor, Dawn Meeks, said they defeated Madison Central last year, but this year they came up just short, losing by 30 points — the equivalent of one question.
Meeks, the second-year sponsor, said some of the really big schools have a class period to use for practice, but her team meets twice a week after school.
“I’m extremely proud of these students, not only of the winning season, but of the integrity that they had as a team,” she said.
Students interested in joining the team are required to take an all-encompassing trivia test, which is given in the fall, Meeks said.
“Those with the highest scores are on the team,” she said. “I like to have 12 members on the team, but this year we actually have 14 because of the way the scores fell.”
Once the team is selected the students practice for about four or five months before competition season, Meeks said.
“I ask them questions like they would have in an actual competition,” she said. “I keep score and basically come up with the six people with the highest scores and they make up the competition team.”
Meeks said while practice helps the students, the bulk of the preparation comes from things the students do before they ever make the team.
“I think by the time they get to me they’ve already inherently absorbed a lot of knowledge,” she said. “For example our captain, Luke Eckstein, is a veracious reader, and he and some of the others read outside of the class for pleasure and absorb a lot of information.”
The students are also well traveled, which has taught them a lot, Meeks said.
“I think it has less to do with practice and more to do with the lifestyle and a desire for knowledge,” she said.
As for next year, Meeks said it would be a rebuilding year, due to the loss of several seniors, including captain Luke Eckstein.
Eckstein, who was part of a championship-winning quiz bowl team in Pennsylvania during his middle school years, moved to Vicksburg when he was in the eighth grade, and he has been a part of the St. Al quiz bowl team for four years.
“Ms. Meeks became the sponsor my eleventh grade year,” he said. “What really happened when Ms. Meeks took over as the sponsor was we had a lot more people come, we had a lot more practices, and it got a lot more organized. That really helped with the team’s cohesiveness.”
Eckstein said it is great to see that a little school like St. Al can go toe-to-toe with some of the biggest schools in the state.
“A lot of teams haven’t really heard of us and don’t think we’re that much of a challenge, so it’s pretty neat to beat schools like Northwest Rankin, which is a 6A school,” he said.
Eckstein said being a part of the quiz bowl team gives him the desire to learn more.
“I never thought before quiz bowl I’d want to know the Italian composers of Opera, but I learned some of that just for quiz bowl to help my team,” he said.
Eckstein is not the only one in his family who enjoys trivia, he said. His father was a contestant on Jeopardy! and his younger sister is on the quiz bowl competition team with him.
“We have interests that compliment each other,” he said. “She’s interested in math, and I’m more interested in history and geography, so it’s really like we work together. Everyone has their own strengths and chips in.”
The best part of quiz bowl is that students are able to see how much untapped knowledge they actually have, Eckstein said.
“I think it’s just a good competitive experience for people who are interested in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge,” he said. “It’s a unique competition for people who have that desire.”

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