Wyoming Academic Challenge continues strong season

Erin Mullins

Powell Meet January 6
Lovell High School Wyoming Academic Challenge coach Bret George said there was some tough competition at the meet, but that he is satisfied with how the Lovell team performed.
“We feel good about their performance.  We went head to head with Cheyenne East in that fourth round, and we actually performed very, very well,” George said. “They just had so many points from previous rounds that we were playing catch up.”
The A team started off the meet that morning at Northwest College at Powell in third place and maintained that score at the end of the day with 955 points. The teams ahead of Lovell were Cheyenne East with 1,235 points in first while Cheyenne East 2 scored 1,095 points for second. The result was the same that George had predicted at the beginning of the day.
No other schools were close to the top three, with the next closest team being Burlington 2 with 595. East High is over five times the size of Lovell, making competition difficult. East High has an enrollment of around 1,557, while Lovell has an enrollment of 220.
“I think that there was just a big gap in the sizes of schools at this event. You know, there’s just a huge gap between a Burlington school and a Cheyenne East,” he said.
It was a lot easier for the team to not have to travel hours for competition, George said. The team seem refreshed heading to a meet that is only 30 minutes away. The team only had one practice before the meet since break ended, but he said the team still played “exceptionally well.”
One round that the team performed particularly well in was the fourth round against Cheyenne East. He said Cheyenne had too many points for Lovell to catch up in scoring with just one round, but that the round was very well done.
George said that while it may be a stretch, he still thinks that it is possible for the team to get a state title.
“There’s no question that there are areas where we can improve,” he said. “But I believe that we are performing very well. And I do believe that it is within reach. We will need to have our A game that day for sure. But yes, we are still poised to sit in a pretty good position for the state title.”
George said the competition this year is much harder than last year, especially Cheyenne East, which makes sense due to their large number of students.  Altough the team didn’t win the Powell meet, he said there were no major stumbling blocks in the team’s performance.
Cheyenne Meet
January 20
The meet at Cheyenne East featured only five Lovell competitors, younger students who are members of the junior varsity team, George said. There were three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. The varsity team members were competing in sports, which is why they didn’t attend.
The younger team struggled against the more experienced teams who brought full rosters, George said. While there is room for improvement in the young players, George is glad the young students got experience.
Junior Damian Wagner was the team captain, George said, and did a good job of leading the young players throughout the day. Throughout their years in high school, these players will develop, he said.
“If you think about freshmen versus juniors and seniors, they just don’t have near the experience with higher level processes like thought processes or content or knowledge that they pick up from other classes,” he said.
Additionally, the younger players tend to be more reserved, he said. They do not want to buzz in and guess when they aren’t certain of an answer. Even if they have an educated guess about the answer, they will still be more reluctant to buzz in.
George said it takes three years for a player to develop and learn how to play Knowledge Bowl. Just like mastering a sport, it takes multiple seasons to truly learn the game. For example, the meet featured many anatomy and physiology questions, which the younger players would not have been exposed to so early in their classes.