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Sport flexes different muscle: the mind

Staff writer

Gabe Hasenbank and Landon Dye don’t watch “Jeopardy,” but their Scholars Bowl coach sure does.

Scholars Bowl is a lot like the popular TV game show — well, popular among older viewers, apparently. Students such as Hasenbank and Dye listen to questions from categories including science, math, and language arts and have 10 seconds to hit a buzzer to answer.

Buzzing first is their version of a three-pointer or a touchdown.

Scholars Bowl may not get the hype that basketball or football do, but it’s competitive.

Hasenbank, a Marion senior, and Dye, a Marion junior, will face off Thursday in Inman in a regional tournament against other 2A teams. State competition will be Feb. 11 in WaKeeney.

“It’s hard to convince people that it’s a spectator sport,” their coach, Christopher Rome, said. “There’s never going to be a pep bus to Scholars Bowl.”

Rome, who teaches junior and senior English and college introduction to literature, thinks the team has a chance to get to state.

It’s been four or five years since a Marion Scholars Bowl team has qualified for state. Rome is holding out hope.

“We have a really balanced team this year,” he said. “On our starting five varsity team, we have a math guy, one who’s good at fine arts, a science specialist, and a history buff as well. They complement each other really well this year.”

Rome has coached Scholars Bowl teams for 10 years.

Hillsboro’s coach, Kaylene Mueller, who teaches K-12 gifted classes, is in her second year of coaching Scholars Bowl.

Teams of five compete to answer 16 questions. Schools can bring six students, but only five participate in a meet at a time. Seventeen students compete on Marion’s junior varsity and varsity teams.

Hillsboro sophomores Justin Miller and Luke Isaac have competed in Scholars Bowl since seventh grade.

“I like answering questions, and I’m pretty smart,” Miller said.

Confidence is key to Scholars Bowl, both coaches said. But even Miller admits that sometimes he gets nervous and misses hitting the buzzer.

Isaac likes competing because “you can learn a lot of new things.”

Both players enjoy science questions the most.

Miller remembers getting tripped up by a trigonometry question.

“A lot of math questions are pretty hard either because we don’t know how or we run out of time before we get the final answer,” Isaac said.

Hillsboro’s team has made it out of pool play once, which was a goal.

“We have improved since last year,” Mueller said.

Hillsboro has 14 Scholars Bowl players on its junior high and high school teams.

As at Marion, Hillsboro students don’t have to try out. But as in sports, they have to be doing well academically to stay eligible for competition.

Both teams practice regularly.

“We kind of just run through questions,” Isaac said.

Mueller picks which five players will compete at a certain meet “based on well-roundedness.”

Hillsboro also thinks it has a shot at state.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good chance,” Miller said.

Mueller enjoys coaching and seeing camaraderie among the students.

“Just letting the kids shine,” she said. “I think it gives those who aren’t necessarily athletic a way to showcase their gifts.”

Interestingly, 80% of Marion’s Scholars Bowl players run cross country.

“It’s been that way for years now. I don’t know why,” Rome said.

Rome laughs a bit when a player can’t correctly answer a question about something he taught in class the day before.

“You’re like ‘Surely they’ll get this,’ ” he said.

Scholars Bowl has one thing up on sports, Rome said: “I have yet to see a Scholars Bowl injury.”

Last modified Feb. 2, 2023

 

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