U team repeats as U.S. winner

Liala Helal

For the second-consecutive year, the University’s College Bowl team is the best in the country.

Competing against 15 other teams, the University squad collected its fifth title at the National Championship Tournament during the weekend at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The University of Minnesota team defeated 11 of those teams and lost to four. In the final competition, the playoffs, the team accomplished four wins and had only one loss.

The tournament is run by College Bowl Company and the Association of College Unions International.

In competitions, teams face off by answering questions about several fields, including literature, science, history and pop culture.

Typically, approximately 10 students to 12 students participate on the team. Only five members competed in the tournament.

Ray Anderson, team captain and coordinator, said preliminary matches Saturday went “very poorly,” but they managed to turn things around when they defeated Stanford University on Sunday.

He said that after that win, other teams made comments such as, “someone is going to defend their title.”

Before the competition, Anderson said, team members practiced more frequently than their average of twice per week for three hours.

Although team coach Aaron Twait said he had thought it was possible, he hadn’t expected the team to win.

“I knew that they could do it,” Twait said. “We were fortunate that all the games broke the way they did.”

Once a competitor himself before graduating in 2003, he said this team’s biggest strength is its speed at answering questions.

“They’ve got more speed than any team I’ve ever been around,” Twait said.

Meredith Johnson, a team member and first-year student, said fun helps the team be successful.

“Other teams get uptight and angry when they get something wrong – they’re not in it to have fun; they’re in it just to win,” Johnson said.

She said she has a ritual of hugging all her teammates before each match and doing the same at half-time.

“We’re all friends,” she said.

Having an upbeat attitude makes things easier during the matches, said senior Matt Sauter, who also competed in the tournament.

“When you get something wrong, you can move on to the next question instead of kicking yourself for screwing up” Sauter said.

The team is very well-rounded in many subjects, senior team member Grant Peterson said.

“We have a breadth of knowledge in every category, and we’re extremely fast – that’s how we win,” he said.

Ryan Peterson, who competed in the tournament, said this is an advantage to the team because when it hears a question, it automatically knows which team member can answer, instead of worrying about it.

Though three of the five team members who competed at the tournament are graduating, first-year student Andrew Bockover stayed positive about the team’s future.

“I just hope that it continues to be as much fun as it has been,” he said.