By Ryan Richardson
JOPLIN, Mo. —
What two states were created entirely out of other states?
What is the command in BASIC that tells the computer to jump to the specified statement number?
If you answered West Virginia and Maine for the first question and GOTO for the second, you have a small indication of what it is like to compete against 2013 Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1 Scholar Bowl champion Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School.
Team members traveled to Columbia on May 3 to compete in the one-day state tournament that consisted of a round-robin format and playoffs that culminated in a 360-240 victory over Pilot Grove High School in the finals. For senior captain Justin Brown, the victory serves as a reminder of the year-round efforts of team members.
“We’ve been so close for the past three years but it felt good to come home with a state championship finally,” Brown said. “This was our goal from the start.”
Missouri Scholar Bowl is a MSHSAA-sanctioned state championship that focuses on multiple academic disciplines like social studies, literature, fine arts and math. Two four-member teams face off through four quarters. The first and third quarters consist of 15 toss-up questions, with the second and fourth quarters consisting of 10 toss-up questions with bonus questions. Since 1999, Thomas Jefferson has come away with seven state championships and three second-place finishes.
On the way to the state championship, Brown set a district record for highest score by a single participant and was part of the district record for highest team score.
“Each of us are very specialized in certain subjects so we work well together,” Brown said. “We practice all year and we keep each other focused. It is a long season, so it was important for us to keep each other going.”
Senior Matthew Eads said that the specialization, in addition to working together, helped secure wins.
“We have kept the same team for three years and we know where we are strong at,” Eads said. “We know how to work together and how to motivate each other.”
Unlike most state playoffs, the final three matches are all held on the same day as the preliminary matches. Senior Chris Saladin said that mental fatigue can start to set in early.
“You look forward to a break to just catch your breath,” Saladin said. “These matches are one right after another and you can feel worn out because it is so draining.”
Coach Nate Kinast knows the fatigue that competition can bring on. The Thomas Jefferson alumnus was part of three state championship teams through 2007. Despite only five years removed from competition, Kinast said that the landscape of Missouri Scholar Bowl has changed greatly.
“Tournament availability has really improved and there is a greater drive to compete with the good schools,” Kinast said. “We really stepped up our statewide tournament competition this year to find those good schools. To be the best, you have to play the great teams to become better.”
For the second-year coach, he hopes that this is the start of another title run for the school.
“It is great to be back on top,” he said.
Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School finished the year with a 32-2 record. This year’s team consisted of seniors Justin Brown, Chris Saladin, Thomas Richins, Matthew Eads, Austin Burns and Clayton Woolery; juniors Sanjay Jenkins and Joe Hedgcorth; and freshmen Noah Wells and Noah Dickinson.