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GMHS Scholastic Bowl Team Wins at Districts, Continues Undefeated Season

Though the competition was not covered relentlessly on ESPN, the Scholastic Bowl is a competition that George Mason High School knows very well and the team, like several other sports teams, is able to make its presence known.

Though the competition was not covered relentlessly on ESPN, the Scholastic Bowl is a competition that George Mason High School knows very well and the team, like several other sports teams, is able to make its presence known.

Coached by teacher Jaime Scharff and led by captain Asher Morse and fellow seniors Anuraag Sensharma, Ross Wilson, and Jakob Hand, in addition to substitutes Crawford Taylor and Matt Baker, the team is so far undefeated this season and beat Rappahannok County High, Clark County High and Manassas Park High 320-120, 275-150 and 345-105, respectively, at the Bull Run District Tournament last Saturday.

“This year’s team on paper looks like the best we’ve had. Our average points per game in VHSL (Virginia High School League) play is the highest we’ve ever had. The closest game we’ve had in VHSL play this year was a 275-150 win over Clarke County (in the second round of the Bull Run District Tournament). That’s a margin of over 12 questions in a 50 question game. We’ve won many of our games, including the district tournament final, by over 200 points,” said Scharff.

Although there may not be many physical demands in a game or as much to learn in terms of individual movements or plays, the Scholastic Bowl competitions are as much if not more of a mental challenge than anything a player on a traditional sports team would ever face. Competition tricks and general knowledge help, but Scharff claims that neither of the aforementioned things is the hard part.

“The most challenging part of competitions is buzzing in under the pressure of game conditions. It isn’t always how much a team knows, but also how well they can do under pressure at buzzing in when they are fairly sure they know it, but not so cautiously that they are too slow and get beat on the buzzer. This is why the best competitions use pyramidal questions – longer questions with multiple clues, with the hardest clues followed by successively easier ones – so the teams will be rewarded for deeper knowledge, not just buzzer speed,” he said.

With four championship wins in the A division since 2002 and three second-place finishes since 2004, the Academic team enjoys a great deal of success within the sport. When asked what makes the George Mason team so successful, Scharff gives credit to the kids and the community.

“Our success is because we have had lots of kids willing to spend a lot of time practicing because they enjoy it, and I spend lots of time enjoying it with them. It also helps that we have a highly educated community so we have a large number of students who start out with a pretty good knowledge base already, and quiz bowl pushes them to enlarge upon it in becoming more knowledgeable in a number of subjects,” said Scharff.

As for recognition, Scharff claims that the players don’t expect it or particularly need it.

“As quiz bowl doesn’t really fit neatly into the sports page or any other particular section of the newspaper, we tend to get less coverage of our team in the local media. But I don’t think that bothers our players, as they get a great deal of enjoyment from participating in the activity, the camaraderie of the team, and the pleasure of learning new things and getting to score points in games because of it.”

 

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