Quiz Bowl NJ State Championships

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Quiz Bowl NJ State Championships

Christopher McAllister, Staff Writer

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Over the weekend the Quiz Bowl team, sometimes called OP Nerds, competed at the New Jersey State Championships in Ridgewood. The day was filled with academic excellence and intellectual dominance. 

The first match of the day pitted Oratory against the a defending National Quiz Bowl Champion, George Washington High School from West Virginia. The OP boys opened the day with a 440-180 loss. The match, however, showed that we could compete even with the elite of Quiz Bowl. The next match saw Oratory pick up its first win of the day against Millburn’s C team. The match was the highest-scoring OP match of the day with a 340-150 win over Millburn. A dominant performance by Captain Matthew Mazzuca led to an early lead that Oratory never gave up. The win highlighted the academic capabilities of the team and showed our potential to dominate in competition. The third match was a close match against Pascack Hills with a score of 250-190. The game was tied heading into the fourth quarter where the team excelled and built a lead that would not be squandered.

After the third match, time was allotted for lunch and the History Bee, the individual competition. Oratory did not have anyone competing in this round of play so we used the extended lunch break to venture into the town of Ridgewood. At lunch, the team bonded over burgers and talked about the year to come. After exploring the town for about an hour we headed back to the school to start the last two preliminary rounds.

The fourth round of preliminary play saw Oratory facing East Brunswick’s A team. The match was hard-fought by the Oratory boys but post-lunch grog was evident. The team lost the match but fought hard resulting in a score of 360-200. While disappointed with the loss coming out of lunch there was still one more match against Demarest’s B Team. The loss still wearing on OP, Demarest built an early lead. However, that would change. Captain Matthew Mazzuca led a vicious third quarter almost resulting in a clean sweep. The Rams, still down though, began the fourth and final quarter of play. The senior rotation of Lawlor, Looney, Mazzuca, and McAllister each contributed to bringing the lead closer and closer, and then, with two questions left, Mazzuca grabbed a lead that the team would not surrender by remembering an old Pizza Hut commercial.

This win put Oratory in 13th place overall with a 3-2 record and 1200 total points scored. In the first round of playoffs, Oratory faced Middlesex A, the 20th seed. Middlesex’s ranking, however, did not correspond to their intellectual capabilities. The team was much better than expected. They fought hard and almost bested Oratory. However, like the Demarest game, a fourth-quarter comeback was led. However, Middlesex did not give up and the game went down to the final question, with Middlesex holding a 10 point lead. Oratory then grabbed the last question while it was still at a 20 point value to edge out the win. Even with the win, the game was not without controversy. Middlesex filed a protest with the reader on their pronunciation of a third-quarter lightning round question. Their claim was that the pronunciation was different in one of their history textbooks but was still valid. Their claim, however, was invalid as they did not ask the reader to bring it up to the supreme leader, Dave Madden. 

This delayed the start of the second round of playoffs for Oratory who was facing the undefeated High Tech Highschool. High Tech has been known as a powerhouse throughout the world of Quiz Bowl and is a consistent force on the national stage. The team had placed 4th in the preliminary rounds with an undefeated record of 5-0. The game started and was very close at the end of the first quarter at 50-30. However, that was as close as it would be. High Tech took advantage of the second-quarter bonuses to build a massive lead and used their third-quarter questions to improve on that. Oratory still fought hard and put together a very good third-quarter but would need a near-perfect fourth-quarter to move on. That was not the case. Even with a very strong fourth-quarter with many of the questions going OP’s way, the lead was too great to surmount. 

In the end, the team put together an all-around great performance at the tournament. The team hopes to improve at the mid-Atlantic tournament in March. Quiz Bowl is a club to look out for in the future.