A Contemplative Man’s Top Ten

After listening to the most recent podcast by Matt West and co-host, Nacho, I decided to revisit my thoughts on the rankings, give my own list and support it. So for whatever it is worth, here it is.

I think that unless there is an overwhelmingly compelling reason to the contrary, the last tournament of the year should get the weight of emphasis by a significant margin. I think Athens, for instance, would have had to win SCQANIT at least (and this particular year, potentially all three other major tournaments) in order to make up for the absence of not participating in AACS. I regret making that comment because Athens is scary good and the option of participating in AACS is not theirs to make. But with some time elapsed and the opportunity to consider various arguments I would rank Woodside as #1 in light of AACS (as well as 3rd at SCQANIT). I think there is a toss-up between Temple and Athens in some respects, but I’d have to go with Temple ahead of Athens in light of the body of work and in light of the fact that we didn’t have a chance to observe a potential trip-up for Athens similar to what Temple experienced at AACS. The Athens finish at Blue Ridge is evidence that a precipitous fall can happen to anyone. What if something similar had happened to them at AACS? We will never know. So, against that backdrop, I would go with Temple #2 and Athens #3.

Heritage NY has earned a finish that I can’t see falling below #4. Heritage is good enough that if the last AACS quiz had turned out differently and they had won, I could see ranking them first. But in the absence of that kind of marquee win, there is not, in my estimation, enough to argue for their placement above any of the top 3. So, I would go with Heritage Mission (NY) at #4.

I am digressing from the flow of thought for a minute, but I can’t argue for Bethel-Calvary above the finalists at SCQANIT or AACS. I don’t doubt that they are formidable (I think I would have both Shelby and Tamara in a top 10 individual quizzer list), but they did not participate in the last week at all. The same would be true of Falls. Every time you quiz you are putting your record and resume on the line – again see Temple at AACS. If the general consensus is to target competing at a high level at the end of the year, then we just don’t have a way of knowing how they would stack up against the chief competitors at the end. So, I can’t see arguing for ranking them above the top 5 in either SCQANIT or AACS. With Calvary’s finish at SCQANIT I would argue for ranking them above Bethel-Calvary. This opinion is far from being as strong as some others, but I think Calvary ought to be rewarded for participating.

To return to the list, when it comes to #5, I must admit I have the highest potential of bias influencing my thinking here, but I would go with Kettle Moraine. I think that 5 and 6 must be Hillsdale/Kettle Moraine in one order or the other. I would put Kettle Moraine at #5, because they (we) gave Hillsdale their two lows in back to back, head to head quizzes at AACS. I would again place a value on the time argument. We knew when coming to early season tournaments that we did not have the firepower to compete in the top five. Samuel didn’t even travel to Athens and only came in during the second quiz of the second day at CI – which happened to be our first high win. (He came in primarily for the sake of ministry in a couple of local churches on Sunday and for visiting extended family and old friends in the area.) Hannah was consistently finishing with high scores on an individual level, but with Hannah and Daniel both experiencing their first full year on the varsity level, the team needed Samuel’s poise, leadership, and experience. Just having big brother present made Hannah a better quizzer, but Samuel was going to have to make a concerted effort to maximize March and April to contribute at a championship-caliber level. He gave it his best shot. Whether that was enough or not would remain to be seen. SCQANIT was like getting his legs under him and giving all the team members the best chance to be successful the next day at AACS. It seemed to come together well during AACS. Even with all of that said, I can see a debate between Kettle Moraine and Hillsdale but what I have a hard time seeing is how the 3rd place AACS team finishes behind a team (Bethel-Calvary) that didn’t even compete in either tournament in the last week. (Again this is no knock on the Ziemers. Their family’s contribution to quiz is significant from the end of excellence in competition and the refreshing presence they bring to every event.)

So, at #5 I have Kettle Moraine and at #6 Hillsdale.

In keeping with the time argument #7 is Calvary and #8 is Bethel-Calvary.

We have first-hand experience with how strong of a team Falls is. The Great Lakes tournament (November) was Athens, Falls, Kettle Moraine, Falls 2, Heritage (NY), Hillsdale, Heritage (IL)…in that order. In the Falls Baptist Invitational (FBI – January), Kettle Moraine was the top seed after 7 rounds of round robin but ended up 3rd to Falls 1 and Falls 2. And Falls finished 4th at their only major (CI). But again the last time anyone saw Falls quiz was the middle of February.

With the entire picture in view I would go Pleasant View (KY) at #9 and Falls at #10.
Fellowship was definitely a strong team with significant potential and I would agree with the general sentiments of Mr. Poston several days ago; Pleasant View and Falls dropping all the way to 9 and 10 and not finding a spot for Fellowship in the Top 10 is indicating a strong field of teams. Northside (SC) had some quizzes that showed they could give top teams strong competition. The first round quiz at AACS finished Kettle Moraine 130, Woodside 120, and Northside 100. Any of the three teams was still in the running for a high win going into Question 20. Heritage, IL made a good run during AACS, finishing 7th and I think winning the SCQANIT consolation tournament.
With the entire picture in view, I would go Fellowship #11, Heritage (IL) #12, and Northside (SC) #13. Multiple other teams from North Carolina to Indiana to California added to the excitement, edification, and blessing of Bible Quiz this year, but I do think the competitive level starts to drop off a bit after these top 13.

If there is anyone still reading to this point I would say a thank you to all that have contributed to the blessing to our lives and quiz program this year.

A Smart Man’s Top 10

1. Temple (TN)-3.0 AVG finish-4 majors attended
My first place team on the ballot is Temple Tennessee. Temple won their two majors with Cullen Baggett, Ariana Balka, and Andrew Proffitt. Temple started off with a bigger roster at Athens and had a lot team chemistry issues and finished 5th. With a roster tweak Temple won CI and SCQANIT. Add Grant Balka to the mix and you have their AACS roster. Everybody predicted Temple to be in the finals at AACS, and the first 6 quizzes of the day it sure looked that way. In a quiz against New York and Woodside (final 2 at AACS as it turned out) they got a big high. Temple was on fire and I think they blew it out from the inside. If you were to ask anybody at AACS on Tuesday who they thought the best team was I would predict that about 90% wouldn’t hesitate to say Temple. Now, they disappointed a lot of people at AACS and Athens under those very unique circumstances. But who was the only team to win more than one major? Who was the only team to place higher than Athens not only once but twice?! Other ministries would give anything to have one the Temple quizzers mentioned above. Try finding that firepower anywhere else.

2. Athens (GA)-1.66 AVG finish-3 majors attended
Athens Georgia comes in at 2nd on my ballot by a gnat’s eyelash. Dalton Croy, Chase Hockema, Calvin Pettyjohn, Katey Davis, and Toni Davis make up this team of five very solid quizzers. The Nick Saban of Bible Quiz (David Poston) can recruit kids and get them pumped on quiz day. Athens started off the year by winning their own tournament. At CI they scored more points than anybody and quizzed circles around many teams. They got 2nd at CI on the last question by nanoseconds. Then they got 2nd at SCQANIT! Athens is not eligible for AACS, but that does little to change my ballot. They went to three majors and placed 1st, 2nd, and 2nd.  Athens is going nowhere and they’ll be back next year with that whole line-up again!

3. Woodside (CO)-3.5 AVG finish-4 majors attended
The 2014 AACS champions come in 3rd on my ballot. Woodside came back from a poor season a year ago and won AACS. Finishing 5th at Athens, 5th at CI, and 3rd at SCQANIT just shows their level of consistency. Led by two seniors Woodside certainly surprised people with their AACS win. Slow and steady did win AACS for them. Even though they won AACS, they never placed higher than Athens at a major and placed above Temple only at AACS. Take for example their record at AACS, they had only 3 high, 8 middles, and one low. Sure the tortoise beat the hare, but the lack of highs, are not super impressive.

4. Heritage Mission (NY)-4.25 AVG finish-4 majors attended
Heritage Mission comes in 4th on my ballot. Heritage had a great run at Athens finishing 2nd. On Friday night at CI they looked like the team to beat as they took the #1 spot in the seeding. I don’t know what happened, but, they collapsed and finished 9th. After that shocking struggle Heritage came back strong to claim 4th at SCQNIT and 2nd at AACS. Heritage always seemed to collapse at the end of each tournament. I have them at 4th because they have who I believe to be the best quizzer in the nation (Mercy Lofgren) and they could consistently give better teams a very hard time. Look for Heritage Mission to come back locked and loaded next year.

5. Hillsdale (FL)-4.75 AVG finish-4 majors attended
The reigning champions come in at 5th on my ballot. Led by Cat Smith, this team could have very well won back to back National Championships. Many spectators discounted Hillsdale due to the fact that they lost the best quizzer in the country last year (Bobby Smith). Hillsdale placed 3rd at Athens but then dropped to 6th at CI, 6th at SCQANIT, and 4th at AACS. Hillsdale will be back next year with Cat and Sarah paving the way.

6. Bethel-Calvary (SC)-3.5 AVG finish-2 majors attended
In 6th place is Bethel-Calvary. Again, the fact that they only came to two majors hurts them on my ballot. Finishing 4th at Athens and 3rd at CI, this team seemed to be right there in the mix. With hands-down the best siblings in quiz and arguably best quizzer, (Shelby Ziemer) Bethel, for one reason or another decided not to quiz SCQANIT. They were not eligible for AACS either way, but the choice to not Quiz SCQANIT brought this team to 6th on my ballot when they could have possibly been #1.

7. Kettle Moraine (WI)-8.0 approximate AVG finish-4 majors attended
My 7th place team made me dizzy trying to decide where they should be. Kettle Moraine had a roller-coaster type year. Their rosters seemed to have changes for each tournament and I don’t believe that they had their best assortment together until AACS. Kettle (as far as I know) didn’t make the top ten at Athens, got 8th at CI, and had a 7th place and 9th place or so finish at SCQANIT. Having said that; they completely turned things around for AACS. Not only did they make it to the finals, they got 3rd.  I can’t put them above 7th because of their finishes earlier in the season, but the fact that they didn’t give up and quizzed strong for AACS says a lot about the determination of that quiz program.

8. Calvary (SC)-6.0 AVG finish-2 majors attended
Stepping in at 8th is Calvary South Carolina. The hosts of SCQANIT had a great Quiz season this year. Led by Kyle and Katrina McMindes, this team seemed at times to be unbeatable. With their liberal quiz style they would hit big or miss big. Unfortunately they missed big at the end of both major tournaments they went to, finishing 7th at Athens and 5th at SCQANIT. Kyle and Katrina will lead Calvary again next year with help from a great upcoming quizzer named Luke Greene.

9. Falls (WI) 4.0 AVG finish- 1 major attended
I’ve got Falls Wisconsin at 9th. This situation really caused me to stop and think. Falls came to only one major and finished 4th. Honestly they had the talent to win CI. John Mark Thompson and Stephen Gillmore propelled this team to a very solid fourth place run. However, I would have a problem ranking them much higher due to the fact that they only came to one major tournament.

10. Pleasant View (KY)-8.75 approximate AVG finish-4 majors attended
Coming in at tenth I have Pleasant View Kentucky. PVKY went to all four majors having an average finish of approximately 8.75. Led by two seniors, (Shekinah Duff and Olivia Thren) PVKY quizzed strong but never seemed to finish the tournament. After some struggles at Athens and CI, PVKY quizzed much better at SCQANIT and AACS. As a matter of fact, at AACS PVKY went 4-1-2. I believe they were averaging nearly 200 points a quiz on Tuesday but after running into two tough quizzes were eliminated. Even though their best two quizzers were seniors, I believe PVKY will be even better this year because their ministry contains “The next generation of Bible Quiz.”

Now, this is just the way I feel about the rankings. I based these observations and conclusions only upon major tournaments, if I added Blue Ridge and Kentuckiana to the mix it would only point to Temple and create many variables. Also, there’s a fact that can’t be disputed: The Best Team Doesn’t Always Win. Congratulations to all the teams and work hard for next year!

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