The Quiz Bowl team participated in the state competition at Blue Valley on Saturday, Feb. 11, winning two rounds and losing five.
Even though [they] did not place in the top four, sponsor Mary Beth Mattingly thinks that the team did fine.
“I think we played well. On most of the rounds we didn’t have gigantic losses,” Mattingly said. “We essentially had the answer right, but then we would give too much information.”
Senior Zach Zarnstorff has similar thoughts.
“I think it went OK. State competition is hard and there were a lot of good teams there,” Zarnstorff said. “We missed going to finals by one win.”
Mattingly said that the different set-up of the competition was surprising.
“The thing that threw us off was the format of the rounds,” Mattingly said. “Usually, it is round after round after round, but in this competition there would be a round and then you sat around and wait for the next round.”
At the 5A regional tournament hosted at Mill Valley on Thursday, Feb. 2, the Quiz Bowl team placed second and qualified for state competition.
Last year, the team failed to qualify for state, the first time in many years. But now the team is again eligible, and according to coach Mary Beth Mattingly the team is excited for the qualification after last year’s loss.
“The team is very happy about themselves and as a team, but they are humble about their win,” Mattingly said. “They had a strategy and knew how to recognize and play to each others’ strengths, and that helps the whole team succeed.”
In the end, Blue Valley High School took first place with Mill Valley close behind. Mattingly said the team met their overall goal for this tournament.
“Their goal was to do as well as they did in the first pool play as they did last year, and they did,” Mattingly said. “They feel vindicated now because last year’s loss was such a blow. But, now they feel back and track to getting Mill Valley back on the quiz bowl list. I am very proud.”
Next week on Saturday, Feb. 11, the team will head to Blue Valley to compete for the 5A state title, a title they won only two years ago, Congratulations and good luck at the competition.
Below is the list of state qualifying Quiz Bowl participants that will be competing next weekend:
Senior Zach Zarnstorff
Junior Cole Clay
Senior Tyler Owsley
Senior Austin Ross
Junior Alex Reeves
Sophomore Andrew Hecht
After two months and two denied requests for a school swim program, the board of education approved the addition of a swimming team at the board meeting on, Monday, Jan. 9. The sport will be available to both De Soto High School and Mill Valley High School, beginning of next year.
Both schools together will be instructed under a single coach at the same practice, which will be located at Oregon Trail Middle School in Olathe. Board president Tammy Thomas said she is excited about the implementation of the new team.
“The amount of support [for swimming] is tremendous,” Thomas said. “This is really an opportunity for kids whose passion is swimming.”
The district will continue talks with the surrounding league for competition, which includes high schools such as Bonner Springs, Turner, Lansing, Piper and Bishop Ward’s combined team, Shawnee Mission South, Blue Valley West high schools. There are more logistics to work out, but Thomas has no fear of the future logistics.
“I don’t see a challenge in the implementation, it already has the support and the interest of the kids and the parents, the energy for the sport has just really continued,” Thomas said. “I guess the challenge is getting a coach hired because we don’t have a coach at this time, but that is not a challenge because the word is out and we expect to find someone quickly.”
There were too many details to complete within the 30-day time-frame that was demanded lastOctober, the first meeting where swimming was proposed to the board. Senior Zach Zarnstorff, an avid supporter of the swim team addition, said that though it is too late for him, as the team will begin to meet next year, it means good things for the school.
“I feel like it is a little late for me now, but it is good for those next year,” Zarnstorff said. “Swimming is a no-cut sport, so it is good that anyone who wants to in it can [participate]. We now have a bunch of good swimmers that could do well at state.”
Junior Chloe Stewart said that she is excited for the additional athletic option.
“I am looking forward to the addition of the swim team,” Stewart said. “I will finally be able to get involved in…athletics.”
With a large amount of student involvement and board support, Thomas and the board consider the addition of a swim team a victory for the whole district.
“I am just beside myself, it is a big win for the district,” Thomas said. “It is an opportunity to have those involved watch the board work together and think it through and ask hard questions and come to a resolve. So, I think it is really a great opportunity for us as a district.”
Quiz Bowl competed at St. Thomas Aquinas on Thursday, Nov. 17. Seniors Zach Zarnstorff and Tyler Owsley, juniors Sarah Jane Clark and junior Alex Reeves, sophomore Alyssa Hobson, and Tyler Hinnen led the team to get in third place.
Quiz Bowl sponsor Mary Beth Mattingly thinks that they improved on answering the questions.
“We started off a little rough at first, but then we were in the flow of things. They knew things and were able to answer things,” Mattingly said.
Clark wants to improve on memorizing.
“Memorizing authors of the common books that they ask questions about is what I need to improve on,” Clark said.
Owsley thinks that they did their best.
“We did pretty well. I was pleased with our performance,” Owsley said.
Quiz Bowl’s next meet is on Monday, Nov. 28 at Eudora High School.
Sophomore Alyssa Hobson sat poised over her buzzer, her face scrunched in concentration, listening intently as a science question got called, “Name the phylum that includes species that display cephalization, bilateral symmetry, and…”
She waited a moment and then sprang forward, pressing down on the practice buzzer and interrupting the question.
“Mollusca,” Hobson said.
She received an encouraging nod from Quiz Bowl sponsor Mary Beth Mattingly, who then proceeded to read the next question to the group.
Team members like Hobson specialized in certain areas of knowledge, all varying in depth and abstractness, such as knowing a former president’s current address to a complicated mathematical formula. This specialization of information contributed to making the Quiz Bowl team strong.
“I think students have natural subjects that they’re good at,” Mattingly said. “They almost divide themselves into different areas and from there we have a well rounded team. This helps us to be stronger as a whole.”
Having a variety of students who all excel at different subjects helped the team, enabling them to depend on each other for different areas.
“We have a nice blend of information when we’re all together and for someone like me, who dislikes math, it’s nice to know some of the other members are there to cover for me,” senior Zach Zarnstorff said.
The team practiced around four times every week, preparing for tournaments by going over questions and concepts that could show up during rounds.
Hobson explained how she used the many practices to help her excel at tournaments.
“When I hear the information during practice and then have to think about it, it helps me retain the information a little better,” Hobson said. “I personally focus the most on English and science questions. I’ll even write down some of the questions I didn’t know so I can go back to them later and learn them.”
Overall the team couldn’t wait to put all of their hard work and collaboration to good use.
“We have an awesome team this year, with a lot of cooperation and team work,” Mattingly said. “There is really just an overall positive attitude with the team.”
In front of a room packed with parents, athletes and coaches, the school board made the decision on Monday, Oct. 10 to create a bowling team at both high schools but suspended discussions about a swim team for the two schools.
Board member Angela Handy voted in favor of swimming and bowling for the De Soto district.
Via email, Handy explained why board members didn’t pass swimming.
“Some thought we were rushing into something and that the plan was not organized,” Handy said. “I had a different view; we knew about the possibility of adding this team since August.”
Although many people were disappointed by the decision to not include swimming for this school year, so far, adding a bowling team has been received positively.
District resident Brenna June, who spoke in front of the board, urged the seven members to pass a bowling team, which (in a survey given to students last year) 42 percent of students expressed interest in being a part of, compared to the 36 percent interested in a swim team.
“[A bowling team would] bring a collection of students together of any size, shape or economic status,” June said.
Senior Olivia Cain spoke about her previous experiences on the St. James Academy bowling team at the school board meeting.
“I learned how to be social and use logic,” Cain said. “I went to state my sophomore year, but I don’t have plans to continue [bowling] after high school.”
On the other hand, the nine individuals who spoke at the meeting on behalf of a swim team are discouraged by the decision.
“I’m really disappointed because there is a lot of talent and dedication at Mill Valley,” sophomore swimmer Krista Brewer said. “Because there’s not a swim team, we’re not able to compete at a state level.”
Junior Aaron Akin, who won first place in breaststroke at All-City over the summer, shares Brewer’s opinion on the issue.
“[We are upset] because now we don’t have the opportunity to represent our school the only way we know how,” Akin said.
Shawnee Tiger Sharks swim coach Rebecca England shared with the board the benefits a swim team could offer.
“Swimming not only provides discipline, but gives endurance, strength, and flexibility,” England said. “There are also 25 schools around here that provide scholarships for swimming.”
The board members’ discussion, which included some foul language and contradictory budget numbers, included re-evaluating the issue of adding swim teams next year, meaning that some students would miss out on being a part of the team.
Senior Zach Zarnstorff, who plans to swim next year in college, is disappointed in the decision.
“This is my senior year,” Zarnstorff said. “It’s my only chance. I’m missing out on an opportunity that I thought I would have.”
Akin also thought that the decision should have been made earlier.
“It’s been pushed back for several years,” Akin said. “We would have been willing to fundraise for equipment costs and buy our own suits, goggles and swim bags.”
His hope is that a swim team will be approved in the future.
“I believe that we just clear up some of the misconceptions and confusion that was at the board meeting and try to move forward to create a swim program for next season,” Akin said. “This should have been a priority of the district. The costs of this investment are greatly outweighed by the benefits this program would bring to the schools and the community.”