Carmel Valley Middle School Quizbowl teams headed to national competition

Carmel Valley Middle School will be sending two teams to the Middle School National Quizbowl Championship Tournament in May 2015 in Dallas, Texas. The teams earned the chance to compete nationally by placing in the top of the Southern California Quizbowl tournament recently at Madison High School in San Diego.

Eighth-graders Wesley Zhang, Allen Huang and John Finkelman of Team A won first place, and Team B, composed of eighth-graders Jeanne Zheng, Caroline Bao, Ashley Zhang and Natalia Zorrilla, took second place.

Team A went undefeated in Southern California competitions this year — last year they went to nationals in Atlanta and placed 29th in the country.

Quizbowl is a buzzer-based academic competition in which two teams compete to answer as many questions as possible. At the regional tournament, the Carmel Valley teams competed against 21 teams from nine different schools.

The standard quiz bowl match consists of 20 “toss-up” and “bonus” questions. Toss-up questions are read to both teams at once, and any player can buzz in to correctly answer the question. If they answer right, they get a bonus question in which they can confer with the rest of the team for the answer.

Wesley founded the school’s Quizbowl team last year, although it originally started as a history club. Principal Cara Dolnik noted Wesley is an “exceptional student” who also won the school’s geography bee.

When they learned about Quizbowl, sponsored by National Academic Quiz Tournaments, they decided to put their knowledge to a fun and challenging test.

While teacher Tania Kim provides the classroom for the students to meet at lunchtime, she said they pretty much run their own show. Kim said the students are very competitive among themselves and meet weekly to practice questions, sometimes at Torrey Pines High School after school. While they study up on some subjects, some of this information is already in their well-stuffed brains.

“It’s just an accumulation of knowledge,” John said. “It just stacks up.”

Each student has a specialty subject: John’s is Russian history, for example; Allen’s is math and physics, Ashley’s is art, Caroline’s is science, and Natalia’s is history.

Natalia said Team B was so successful in its first year of competing because it had a not-so-secret weapon in Jeanne.

“She did really well — she placed first in the individual competition,” Natalia said. “She’s full of knowledge.”

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