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A popular game show is what prompted several members of a championship academic team to compete to test their knowledge.
Wapakoneta High School senior Ross Kohler and junior Austin Klingler both started on the high school’s Academic Team the first chance they got in fifth grade. Junior George Jose joined as an eighth-grader after coming to the school from St. Joseph School. Junior Colin Jarvis is the newcomer, joining the team this year.
Three of the four credit growing up trying to answer questions along with contestants on Jeopardy as how they got interested in joining the academic team.
Austin said he grew up watching the game show hosted by Alex Trebek every night and still does when he has the time.
It may have been the quiz show-type challenge that first got Colin interested in the academic team, but the humor of his teammates is a big plus.
“They are why I am here,” Colin said. “I like hanging out with these guys. They are pretty funny.”
The guys even used their humor to develop a “Saturday Night Live” skit about the team to play with the morning announcements.
The four-member team, coached by biology teacher Adam Friemering for eight years, this week captured its third straight Allen County High School Quiz Bowl Championship in the Black Swamp League. They will compete in March in a Western Buckeye League Tournament, which they won in 2012 and earned second place in during 2011.
They typically also participate in WTLW TV44’s Whiz Quiz and a tournament at Wright State University’s Lake Campus, which attracts approximately 40 teams to compete.
The trophies they earn are on display in the trophy case at the high school.
For their most recent title, Wapakoneta’s team competed individually against 10 teams in answering 15 toss-up questions and 10 questions in a buzzer-type Jeopardy format in each round.
They earned the title during four separate meets competing against each team twice for a total of 20 matches, for which they earned an 18-2 record, but significantly outscored the second-place team, which was the tiebreaker.
The accomplishments of these Redskins may not be as publicly noted as those of other school teams, but Wapakoneta High School Principal Aaron Rex said he is just as proud.
During competitions, team members answer questions based on core subjects, including math, science, literature and music.
To prepare for these competitions, the team practices together four times a week either before or after school.
“I ask them as many random trivia questions as I can find,” Friemering said, sharing that often those questions come from books geared toward these types of academic teams.
He said school in general is their biggest preparation. Some of them also still play along with episodes of Jeopardy to test their minds.
“We like to read,” George said. “We learn from what we do.”
While in the past members of the team would have specialities, those students who excelled in certain areas have moved on and Friemering said he has been left with one of the best all-around groups. Waiting in the wings is a junior varsity team of six members.
Often there is a need for tryouts or to switch players in and out during rounds, Friemering said it was nice that there was no need for any of that this year and the team is doing well.
“They are all within the top 10 of their class,” Friemering said.
“We keep things pretty calm,” George said. “We don’t get too serious about it.”
A member of his high school’s academic team when he was younger, Friemering said it provides a different experience — a nice opportunity for students to spotlight their strengths academically, something they may not always get to do other than with their grades.
Austin said he enjoys the competition and the camaraderie.
“I’m not good at sports so it gives me the opportunity to say I won something,” Ross said.
George said it definitely helps that they all like to win.
“It’s definitely nice to showcase their academic talent,” Friemering said.