Emerson School has a strong showing in the National Championship Quiz Bowl tournament


The Emerson Quiz Bowl team pose with their trophy at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare near Chicago after their 13th place finish in the Middle School Quiz Bowl National Championship. photo courtesy of Emerson School

The following was provided by Bryan Seymour of Emerson School, 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher and Quiz Bowl coach:

Over Mother’s Day weekend, nine local students from Emerson School in Ann Arbor competed in the NAQT Middle School National Championship Quiz Bowl tournament in Chicago, finishing in 13th place nationally.

The Middle School National Championship drew 141 top teams from around the country out of the thousands of total teams that play Quiz Bowl each year. Think Jeopardy, but for middle schoolers, and with a team instead of individually.

Two teams from Emerson (with 7 total teams from Michigan) qualified for this tournament due to their performance in local, NAQT-based tournaments that begin in the fall. Emerson’s 13th place finish is the best result for a school from Michigan in the history of the in-person national tournament.

An Emerson team immediately before a match against BASIS McLean, a school from northern Virginia, in the 2022 Middle School Quiz Bowl National Tournament. Emerson won that match 300-200. photo courtesy of Emerson School

Having started Emerson’s Quiz Bowl program eight years ago, Coach Bryan Seymour of Dexter led a team consisting of 8th graders Jack River Nicolich, also of Dexter, and Abraham Zhang of Ann Arbor, as well as 7th grader Andrew Li and 6th grader Roshni Senthil, both of Ann Arbor. (Wil Rosenfeld, a 7th grader from Ann Arbor, was also on that team but was unable to attend the tournament.)

Another Emerson team also played admirably, led by 8th graders Cole Doty of Dexter and Walter Groening of Ann Arbor, plus 7th graders Libby Schuster and Hana Ghani and 6th grader Jay Aiyagari, all of Ann Arbor, who gained valuable experience for next year. Coach Seymour is very proud of all of the Emerson Quiz Bowl players for their hard work, dedication, and positive attitude throughout the ups and downs of the season.

Eighth grader Jack River Nicolich from Dexter was asked about how he felt about his team's performance. 

He said, “Our whole team was contributing to the score instead of us just having one or two team members that would have gotten all of the points. We also had a collective broad reserve of knowledge, as everyone's strengths accounted for everyone else's weaknesses.” 

When asked what made the team a good one, 8th grader Cole Doty, also from Dexter, responded, “Our team got along well; everyone knew their, and each other's, strong suits and no one was scared to ask for a sub or ask to come back into the match. Of course, we wanted to win, but we tried to think more about having fun and enjoying the experience than stressing about a close match. It was a fun thing to do, especially in the last year of middle school.”

Students prepare for Quiz Bowl competitions through hours and hours of practice. It would be impossible to categorize all of the potential questions, but students get ready by discussing current events, studying world and American history, learning about various novels and poems, studying different forms of science, performing math, and even knowing bits of information about pop culture, sports, and music, among other things. Some players choose to study all available topics while others specialize in an area or two that interests them. Using a buzzer to quickly answer the questions always makes it more fun!

Emerson previously won an internet-based national championship in the summer of 2020 and has twice won the Michigan Middle School Quiz Bowl State Championship, in 2017 and this year in 2022.

The 2022 national champion is an incredible team from Longfellow Middle School in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and the second place team is Chenery Middle School from the suburbs of Boston. 

For more information on NAQT Middle School Quiz Bowl, check out www.naqt.com/msnct/.

Both Emerson teams posed for a photograph in the midst of their tournament run. photo courtesy of Emerson School
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