WA’s quiz bowl team to be televised

John Vassiliou, Editor

Tune in soon– The Westford Academy quiz bowl team will be appearing once more on the WGBH series High School Quiz Show, which will be airing February 16 on WGBH 2.

The show, which is hosted by local radio and television host Billy Costa, will be featuring WA for the first time in over five years.

The captain of the Quiz Bowl team, senior Sriharsha Ayyagary, worked with his peers to prepare for the tournament, going a bit further than the typical casual practice leading up to the event otherwise known as “Super Sunday”. Students from all around Massachusetts compete for a chance to qualify for the televised competition, which will then go on to decide who will win the state championship.

“We deviated from what we normally do. Instead of just doing random questions from the packet we sort of drilled into what we were missing. I’d say our biggest weakness was sports, and we just kinda really drilled that into [each other]. We studied, read stuff on Wikipedia and tried to do buzzer speed tests, because that was something we also needed to concentrate on,” Ayyagary said.

The last time that Westford made it to the television program was in 2014 when Nathan Beningson, Rohan Rastogi, Aditya Datye, and Nihar Sheth, along with alternate Sameera Ayyagari, managed to qualify for the competition, though they did not win the state title.

The Quiz Bowl club meets in Room 112 every Tuesday after school to practice their skills, quizzing each other with questions from packets they receive from the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT). 

“They distribute packets, and there’s a whole bunch of them, and they have basic questions, based on everything, and all sorts of topics,” Ayyagary said.

These topics include categories ranging from sciences and mathematics to history, literature, geography, and a variety of other information categories. This year, the most agreed-upon trouble category for the WA team was sports. Because the Quiz Bowl team lacks a large number of members, they mostly rely on being well-rounded rather than having specialties. However, when it came to sports, junior Zach Roberts pointed out that there were some problems.

“Because our team is pretty small [and] we’re pretty much all well-rounded, it’s always a free-for-all when it comes to competitions. Other teams do have specializations, but we don’t,” Roberts said.

Roberts went on to discuss how even though the team may have had some shortcomings, its ability to work together overall was its strength.

“Sometimes it’s detrimental because no one’s really specialized in sports, but sometimes if someone gets a question that they recognize or someone gets a question that they don’t really know, working as a team and talking to each other works well when [being] by ourselves [can have a bit of pressure.] So being well-rounded really helps us work as a group,” said Roberts.

Even though they had their collective brainpower, it did come down to each individual with his/her button to answer the questions.

“We all had our individual buzzer, and when the light turned green we were allowed to buzz in and so it was a free-for-all, and it would all play out in seconds because it was extremely close. A lot of times even when you had the [answer] someone would buzz in like 0.02 seconds before you, and then they would get the point and you wouldn’t,” Roberts elaborated.

However, even though the event may be stressful, the overall objective of the quiz bowl team is to have fun in the moment, and see how much of a walking encyclopedia you are.

“Studying isn’t the spirit of quiz bowl, it’s really about the stuff you already know that accumulates over the course of your life and at school. I’d really just say learning and everyday life is the best way to prepare,” Ayyagary said.

Another member of  the team, senior Pranav Ramakrishnan, said that quiz bowl is also a good way to get experienced in bits of trivia, as well as to build up knowledge over time in a wide variety of subjects.

“You learn new stuff, or you remember old things like the bonus army question [which was just asked during a club meeting] I wouldn’t have known about that unless I came here and actually heard about it again. In that sense it kind of reinforces what you know,” Ramakrishnan said.

Ayyagary finished by summing up the spirit of Quiz Bowl in his own words, and giving words of encouragement to anyone who may be interested in taking part.

“You don’t necessarily have to have good grades in order to do well in this, the thing is also that even if you do have grades you might not be good at this either. It’s all about random knowledge that you’ll be able to pick up and that’s just not for everyone. But if you are really good at it, I encourage you to try it,” Ayyagary said.