OURAY – Ouray’s high school Knowledge Bowl Team capped another stellar season with a second-place finish in the 1A division at the state tournament in Colorado Springs last week. It is the second year in a row the Trojans finished runner-up. Pikes Peak Christian, the final-day winner, also for the second year in a row, was the only team to top the Trojans all season.
The team consisted of seniors Allie Daughtry and Will MacCraiger, juniors Daniel Degenhardt and Patrick Link and sophomore Nicholas Pieper.
Daughtry said in an interview this week that she was “satisfied” with second place. “But we probably could have gotten first. We tanked two rounds on the second day and still got second. So, I’m satisfied.” Ouray finished fourth in 2009 and 2010.
Still, the Trojans were undefeated at the Regional competition in Bayfield, according to coach (“I feel more like a facilitator”) Eric Fagrelius, longtime Ouray Schools science teacher. They were undefeated at the San Juan Basin League Championships, which were held in Ouray for a second straight year. Plus, they finished first at every local league match against Norwood, Dove Creek, Nucla, Telluride, Dolores and Ridgway.
At State, according to Fagrelius, Bayfield HS took third place in the 3A division. Telluride and Dolores competed in 2A.
At Colorado College, where the state meet was held, 50 teams from all divisions, 1A to 5A, compete together through two rounds of written tests and eight rounds of orals. The written rounds cover “topics from A to Z,” Fagrelius said, “but generally mimic
the range of learning in a typical high school curriculum. The best competitors have quick recall, worldly awareness, and brave intuition. Each team should have a good balance of math, history, science, and English.”
Daughtry, who is also the editor of the Trojan Tribune school newspaper, is the team’s “grammar person,” she said. “I also know a lot of random facts, like really obscure things. Back in my freshman year at practice, for example, I knew the answer to a question was ‘Panchen Lama’ – the second in command to the Dalai Lama. I just reached forward and hit the buzzer. For a while, that was my nickname: Panchen Lama.”
The oral rounds are, of course, the really exciting ones. Three teams of four students compete in a room together. Anyone can hit the buzzer, even before the question is finished. Team members cannot consult one another on an answer other than to determine which one of the four will answer.
“There is skill required to know when to ‘grab’ the question for your team by buzzing-in before the question is completely read,” said Fagrelius. “The best teams can often predict the nature of the question and the likely answer. There is no penalty for wrong answers. Over the course of the state competition, the students fielded about 600 questions.”
Are they nervous as an oral round begins? “You get used to it,” Daughtry said. “You have to trust your inkling. The younger people especially may know the answer but won’t buzz in because they’re not that confident.”
Fagrelius leads practice once a week for a couple of hours. “Practice consists of snack time, written-round practice (these are multiple choice questions that the team works on together), then we practice oral-round questions. For these, we use a buzzer strip system.
“It is hard to cram for these events,” Fagrelius said, “and hard to predict the degree of minutia in the questions. Reading through the encyclopedia and other outside-of-school literature would be a good preparation.”
With pride Fagrelius said, “This is our school’s most-successful squad for the last four years, with good prospects for the future.”