Quiz Bowl team works to rebound from loss of stellar alumni

February 6, 2024 — by Jane Lee
Courtesy of Simarya Ahuja
Senior Simarya Ahuja and Class of ‘23 alumni Adam Xu, Anthony Wang, Siddharth Kamannavar, Nithya Krishna and Nilay Mishra (left to right) hold up the schedule card of the team they beat on May 27, 2023, the first day of prelims at Nationals.
The team’s goal this year is to qualify for Nationals once again.

Upon hearing a question asking which poet wrote “The Road Not Taken,” senior Simarya Ahuja slammed down the red button in front of her and answered correctly: Robert Frost. As her team cheered, she felt, once again, the joy of competing in a Quiz Bowl tournament.

Moments like this — from a competition at the California Cup #1 on Oct. 29 — inspire Ahuja and 14 other students to continue fostering their love for knowledge through the activity.

Quiz Bowl, a fast-paced “Jeopardy!”-style trivia game, is played by two competing teams of four to six people. Teams race to correctly answer questions spanning a variety of topics including history, literature, pop culture, science, fine arts, philosophy, theology, geography and more. Quiz Bowl is divided into three divisions: competitive, standard and novice.

The school’s Quiz Bowl team, which typically competes within the standard and novice divisions, is led by its upperclassmen officers: president Ahuja and vice president senior Rushil Saraf, as well as juniors Akshat Bora and Alan Cai, who are treasurer and secretary respectively. This year’s club has 15 members consisting primarily of sophomores and juniors, a slight increase from last year’s 12 members. 

Despite the club’s increase in popularity, Ahuja noted that it has faced difficulties in placing as high as they did last year, where the standard team qualified for the National tournament and placed fifth.

Last semester, the club sent teams to the Fall Novice Tournament on Oct. 8, and California Cup #1, both of which were held online. In the California Cup #1, the standard team placed eighth of 16 teams, and the novice team placed 10th of 15.

Ahuja attributes these difficulties to the loss of talented veterans to graduation, including seniors Siddharth Kamannavar, Nithya Krishna, Nilay Mishra, Anthony Wang and Adam Xu.

“They were the strongest players for years and I went to Nationals with them, but this year, I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to even qualify,” Ahuja said. 

To qualify for Nationals, a team must end up in the top 15% of a National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) sponsored tournament. This is the club’s ultimate goal.

The school’s two teams hope to continue competing at regional events, such as the Cal Cup #2 at Bellarmine on Feb. 17 in hopes of qualifying. However, due to schedule conflicts with the school’s annual Bombay in the Bay show on Feb. 17 and 18, the teams are unsure if they will be competing at the Cal Cup #2 and may need to rely on future opportunities.

In addition to competing with the SHS team, Ahuja has also been mentoring the Quiz Bowl team at Redwood Middle School, in an effort to recruit new members to join the club next year.

“There are some really strong players there — eighth graders who I can see continuing Quiz Bowl in high school, just because they enjoy it so much … I see that spark in them,” Ahuja said.

Like the students she mentors, Ahuja’s interest in trivia games blossomed at an early age. Ahuja grew up watching “Jeopardy!” with her family and joined the Quiz Bowl club in her freshman year. Looking back on the past four years, she feels that the club has helped her foster her love for knowledge.

“Through Quiz Bowl, I was able to meet new people, but I think what I am going to take away from Quiz Bowl is the fact that my love for learning has grown,” she said.

Tags: Quiz Bowl
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