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Notre Dame Quiz Bowl team to compete at Nationals

| Friday, March 25, 2022

Notre Dame’s Quiz Bowl team will be one of the 32 Division II teams competing in the Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in Chicago on April 2.

The team went to the national tournament in 2019 — placing 16 out of 32 teams — after they went undefeated in the Great Lakes Sectional tournament. The road to qualifying for Nationals this year was not so easy. 

The team was placed fourth on the waitlist to compete at Nationals after their sectional competition at the University of Illinois in February, senior and Quiz Bowl President Alexander Kuptel explained.

The three teams ahead of them made it off the waitlist, Kuptel said. At that point, he said he did not think his team would get as lucky. But when a one-man team from a Minnesota community college declined their spot at Nationals, one of the four spots at nationals reserved for community colleges opened up, Kuptel said.

So, the Notre Dame Division II Quiz Bowl team got off the waitlist and became national competitors. 

Although Kuptel he serves as the president of the club, he will not compete in the national tournament. He competed at sectionals on the Division I team that did not qualify for Division I Nationals. The members who qualified for Nationals are first-years Alexander DelVecchio, Stephen Heritage and Bryan Fok, and sophomores Thomas Mercurio and Anders Lamb. 

The team may be young, but that’s not to say they’re incapable of success. DelVecchio, who has been competing in quiz bowl since he was in sixth grade, was the highest scoring player at a novice tournament at Purdue University on Oct. 30. The whole team fared pretty well at the same tournament, DelVecchio said, as the team finished in second place. 

“We’re young. And that’s good because we can see not just where we are nationally in terms of other teams, but how we work together and how and where we might be able to strengthen and fine tune that team dynamic,” DelVecchio said. “I think that’s really one of the biggest things we can look forward to in this tournament.”

While competing, the team will be tested on their knowledge in a variety of subjects, including social sciences, literature, fine arts and hard sciences. Kuptel described Quiz Bowl questions as similar to “Jeopardy” but “slightly more academic.” 

Throughout the semester, the team has been practicing Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the third floor of LaFortune Student Center. Practices usually involve scrimmaging against one another, but their regimen has become more focused in preparation for the national tournament.

Each team member has been writing their own question packets on a specific subject and plays those packets during practice, Heritage explained.

Kuptel said writing packets on a specific topic helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of one subject. The most competitive teams have highly specialized individuals in each subject. He explained that this strategy will benefit Notre Dame’s team because team members have general knowledge across a variety of topics. 

While many schools focus on being as competitive as possible, the team said they agreed to also recognize the social aspect of being part of a team. 

“The thing about practices is they’re fun. You have your friends there and people you’re working with, but people are also making jokes and you can enjoy it,” DelVecchio said.

This intersection of the team’s academic and social nature is something that Kuptel said he takes great pride in. 

“I think we exemplify a lot of the values that Notre Dame places on community and friendship and mutual care,” Kuptel said. “That’s something I’m very proud of this team … that we’re able to do that and still go to Nationals and compete at a high level.” 

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