Knowledge Bowl team second at state

"By MATT JOHNSONStaff reporterHaving accomplished the heady task of winning the second-place trophy at the state Knowledge Bowl last Saturday, team members are now, officially, the best group of brains ever at South Whidbey High School. They are (front row) Thomas Gill, Hart Boyd, Stewart Bowers, Erik Rainey; (back row) Patrick Boyle, Hannah Shafaat, Marike Svoboda, and Danelle Muniz Matt Johnson, staff photoIt sounds like torture.One recent Saturday, four South Whidbey High School students sat for eight hours under bright lights in hard, plastic chairs where they were forced to answer 420 questions about everything from who set the single-season, major league RBI record to the names of King Lear's daughters.Though it may have seemed like it at times, the students were not in the gulag, but in Camas, participating in the 2A Knowledge Bowl state championship.As it turns out, all the brain draining, headaches and fatigue were worth it. At the March 24 meet for the first time in the history of South Whidbey's 12-year-old Knowledge Bowl program, the team placed second, just three correct answers behind champion Port Townsend.Greg Ballog, the Knowledge Bowl team advisor, said the finish was something the team only dreamed of at the start of the season last November.They were excited, Ballog said. They were jazzed.Breaking into the top five at the meet is a near-impossible task for any school that has never competed at that level. Ballog said perennial think tanks like Port Townsend form an almost impenetrable cartel at the top.It's almost like a club, he said.Three South Whidbey Knowledge Bowl teams competed in regional competitions throughout the five-month season, then pooled their best brains for Saturday's championship. Competing in Camas were Hannah Shafaat, Thomas Gill, Danelle Muniz, and Patrick Boyle.As the day wore on toward the finals, the South Whidbey students could almost feel their brains slumping from exhaustion inside their skulls. Hannah Shafaat, the team's captain, said the sensation was at its peak after the semifinal round. To get through it, Thomas Gill had to fall back on his secret weapon to continue -- caffeine.I took a nice big gulp of Pepsi One to get me going again, Gill said. The caffeine, plus the team's seemingly bottomless pit of practical and trivial knowledge, sustained them through the finals, winning them the second-place trophy. Muniz said that bit of wood and plastic hardware represents more effort than anyone outside the team can know.It's exciting, she said. It's sort of a relief that you've accomplished this.On the same day in Everett, the school sent another group of four students to the regional finals for the academic quiz game Hi-Q. The team retained its place as regional 2A champion, but was not able to place against 3A or 4A schools.Ballog said both teams amassed enough trophies and plaques to start the school's first academic trophy case. There's no word on when or where the case might be built, but until it is, the hardware will be guarded by the iguana and giant gecko in Ballog's classroom. "

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