After three years of qualifying for Knowledge Bowl State Championships, Sequim High School’s team took home its first title since 2008.
Sequim High School seniors Addison Berg, Liam Stevenson, John Purvis, Devin Hibler and substitutes Joe Benjamin and sophomore Sam Frymyer put their heads together to win this year’s state title on March 17 at the Knowledge Bowl State Tournament at Arlington High School.
Knowledge Bowl is an academic trivia competition where public and private schools within their educational service district compete to answer questions within 15 seconds on topics ranging from math and science to history and literature.
Sequim High’s team competes in the 2A division and took the win against eight other teams at this year’s state tournament. The team also won the Summit Award this year (and the past two years) for the highest combined score of their top two teams.
Berg, Stevenson, Purvis and Hibler said they have known each other and been competing on the team together for three years.
“These guys have been playing together as a team since their sophomore year,” advisor and science teacher Laura Gould said. “They’ve made it to state every year they’ve played together.”
To make it to the state tournament, teams must qualify and move through a series of tournaments starting in November, one playoff tournament and then the final state championships. Each team consists of four players including one captain and allows for two substitutes.
In the squad’s first two years, the team said they placed in seventh their first year and ninth their second year, but this year was a huge improvement.
“We were really proud of ourselves because our first highest placing before that was seventh our sophomore year,” Hibler said.
“Winning state has been our goal for the past three years,” Stevenson said. “It’s always something we’ve been working towards.”
The team said they start practicing in November each school year three times a week. Gould said there was about 15 students that would participate in practices throughout the year.
“It’s random trivia so it’s hard to prepare for it,” Berg said, the team’s captain.
“Everyone has specific categories they are best at but we also each have broad knowledge that plays into all of the categories.”
Stevenson said another part of practicing for the tournaments is learning to work together.
“Our team is really good at working with each other to come up with answers,” he said. “We bounce ideas off each other and use that to come up with the answer.”
The team said they were pretty neck and neck at the semi-final round with the previous 2A division state champs from 2017, Charles Wright Academy — a Tacoma private school, and managed to pull through at the second to last question.
“The semi-finals was more intense and nerve racking than the final round” Stevenson said.
“We felt the pressure to succeed because we knew it was our last year,” Berg said.
While the team has been waiting for this win for three years, the students also said they make sure to have fun. Berg said the team has made a trend each year of wearing themed outfits to competitions, from Hawaiian shirts to matching socks to cutoff jean shorts.
“We definitely stand out from other teams in that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Berg said.
“For me, Knowledge Bowl is just fun,” Stevenson said.
One day before the state tournament, the high school had a staff versus student Knowledge Bowl team competition and the students also were victorious.
“I think that it’s a great tribute to the teachers at this school because so many of the teachers have put so much information into their heads it was awesome to see (them win),” Gould said.
This is Gould’s fifth year serving as the Knowledge Bowl advisor and has had several of these same students in her science classes. This also is the first year her team has won a state title.
“The last time I had seen them that excited was when they qualified for state their sophomore year,” Gould said.
Some of the students on the team said they are putting this win on their college applications and would be interested in participating on a similar team in college if it had one.
While the seniors will be going their separate ways after they graduate high school, Frymyer will continue the team’s legacy and Gould said she will most likely recruit students for next school year’s team.