Scholars Bowl finished second at State

Brianna Carmack, Print Editor-in-Chief

The Manhattan High Varsity Scholars Bowl team placed second at State, making this their seventh consecutive year in a row where they have placed in the top three. The tournament was held at Wichita West High School on Feb. 13.

Six students competed at State with only one having prior State experience, junior Abrar Nasser. The other students were senior Sam Erker and sophomores Grace Higgins, Vinny Sun, Julius Neumann and Thom Loub. With it being many of the team’s first experience at a state tournament, some of the students had some nerves at the tournament.

“I think we did a pretty good job overall,” Sun said. “I know I definitely could have answered a couple more questions, but it being my first state tournament, I was a bit more hesitant in answering. I’ll definitely work on the balance of speed and confidence in answering questions for the future.”

The questions that are used at every state tournament are selected by various Scholars Bowl coaches.

“I thought the questions at State gave us an advantage,” Dawdy said. “Questions for the state tournament are submitted by coaches and then a group of coaches vets all the answers and organizes them.”

The first seven rounds of the competition were formatted as a round robin. MHS went 5-2 during those rounds with losses to Free State and Blue Valley. That record earned MHS the second seed in the final bracket. The top four teams that advanced to the final racket were Free State (5-2), MHS (5-2), Blue Valley (4-3) and Wichita East (4-3). 

In the first round of pool play, Blue Valley won against MHS, 45-55.

“Our first match in pool play with Blue Valley was a little bit of a hiccup as we lost 45-55,” Dawdy said. “But, I felt we were the better team.”

In the semi final rematch against Blue Valley, MHS won 55-20, which, ultimately, put MHS in the championship match against Wichita East, who won against Free State, 55-40.

During the championship round, MHS was down 25-30 midway in the round. In the last eight questions, the lead changed four times, resulting in a five-point difference that caused MHS to place second at State. The match against Wichita East was very tense and nerve racking for the team.

“It was very tense,” Dawdy said. “I think Sam told me he took his finger off the buzzer because it was shaking from nerves so bad and he didn’t want to accidently buzz in early. My heart was beating a little harder too. It was a complete opposite of last year’s championship match as we got up big early and the outcome was decided with five questions to go. This year it went down to the last question.”

Although MHS wishes they could’ve came out first in State, qualifying for the competition was already a huge accomplishment, especially it being the seventh consecutive year.

“Losing by five points in the final does hurt a little but second at State is still a great accomplishment in my mind,” Sun said. “We’ve been top three at State for seven years now, so my goal is to keep the streak alive next year. Hopefully, we can bring back a championship next year too.”