Academic Quiz Bowl Team Takes National Title

April 16, 2007

For the second time in eight years, the Carleton College academic quiz bowl team won the National Academic Quiz Tournament Undergraduate Intercollegiate Championship. Patrick Hope '07 (Dickinson, N.D.), John Morse '07 (Springfield, Ill.), Max Parrish '07 (Rockford, Ill.) and Garrett Ryan '09 (Mokena, Ill.) defeated Harvard in the undergraduate final, 305-205, to clinch the national title.

This year's tournament was held at the University of Minnesota.

Eric Hillemann, Carleton's coach, reports the team won ten matches en route to the national title, defeating Oklahoma State, Michigan, Stanford, Virginia, Florida, Grinnell, Amherst, Rutgers and UCLA to reach the finals. Due to a better record to that point, Carleton entered the final with a one-game advantage over Harvard, meaning the Crimson needed to win twice in order to take the undergraduate championship, while Carleton needed to win only once.

In the final, Harvard scored first, answering the opening tossup question, but failing to convert any bonus points to take an early 10-0 advantage. Buoyed by the support of a loyal contingent of Carleton friends who traveled to Minneapolis, Carleton made a statement by blitzing all the points for the next several minutes, building up a 160-10 lead. At halftime Carleton led 200-85. Harvard fought back impressively, however, closing the gap to 55 points at 260-205 in favor of Carleton. With time running short, Ryan rose to the occasion by being first to buzz correctly on the next two tossups (on "the Sahel" and on psychologist "John B. Watson"), clinching the match and a national championship.

Hope was a tournament all-star, and indeed the top undergraduate individual scorer in the country for a second year in a row. "He worked especially hard over the past several months to kick his already formidable game up to a new level, and he led the way for Carleton throughout the tournament," Hillemann said. "He was a man on a mission here."

This is the second quizbowl undergraduate national championship for Carleton, and for Hillemann as coach, with Carleton's previous title having come eight years ago in 1999. The Knights finished fifth overall in the tournament among undergraduate and graduate teams, as concurrent competitions are run during the tournament with graduate and undergraduate teams. The overall national championship has always been a graduate team, and Carleton's fifth-place overall finish as an undergraduate team is one of the best finishes for an all-undergraduate squad. The top two undergraduate finishers meet for that national title, as Harvard was the next-best finisher in the overall competition in 10th.

"I am ecstatic over the current team's victory, particularly on behalf of the team's three seniors, who have capped an extraordinarily successful collegiate quizbowl career by finally winning 'the big one,' after having come close (2nd and 3rd) in two previous years," Hillemann said. "Today's win was not unexpected—Carleton has not lost a match to another all-undergraduate team in a full year—but it was a difficult challenge to rise to nonetheless, and proving themselves the best all-undergraduate team in the country for 2007 is truly something to savor."