It is my honor to write about the first hall of fame inductee, Jenni West. While some of these hall of fame people are way before my time, Jenni was only 6 years older than me, so the buzz about her in my home state was still very strong when I was quizzing. The best quizzer against which I quizzed was Israel Bandela, but I am told that he was not as good as Jenni. This statement literally scared me into doing some research when in high school. Some have said she is the best quizzer ever. While that is certainly arguable, let’s look at the facts that are not arguable. Jenni began quizzing in first grade. According to her, she was not very good at that time. She says that it was her mother who gave her the final encouragement to actually be good in third grade. I assert that usually greatness is discovered with one tidbit that can be told to thousands, but only life-transforming for the great one. Much like Butch Harmon’s tidbits made Tiger Woods feared, the comments of Mrs. West made Jenni West one of the best ever. Both Mr. Harmon and Mrs. West have taught many, but greatness has a way of taking those small bits to use it for domination.
Jenni continued to quiz in elementary through 6th grade. She was the highest quizzer in her elementary division for her final 4 years, leading her team to a national title all four of those years. Jenni’s dominance continued into high school when she quizzed as a freshman, memorizing the entire section. TMA didn’t even win FACCS the previous year and had lost their captain from that team, Stuart Sloan. Many thought it would be a rebuilding year, but because of Jenni, they easily won FACCS. She was the highest quizzer at SCQANIT, leading her TMA team to victory there, but a disappointing second at AACS, dubbed “The Greatest Upset of All Time.” Even as a freshman, she provided leadership from chair 3. She and her brother, who sat in chair 1 or 5 depending on the side, were known by all other teams. Most of the comical stories I have ever heard revolving around Bible Quiz center on these two doing something crazy.
For the next few years, FACCS wasn’t even a question. TMA breezed through FACCS each years; demoralizing the competition. Many say the next two years of TMA comprised the best team ever. At least four others from those teams have been said to deserve Hall of Fame consideration in one form or another (Gordon McCarty, Matt West, Chip Crissey, and Scott Hundley). The fact that she stood out in that group is a statement unto itself. Unfortunately, all of those graduated at least one year before Jenni, which left her (in her senior year of 1996) without any kind of decent running mate. Jenni led the team through a difficult FACCS and into AACS. That was one of the most ridiculous AACS teams ever.
Retrieving the AACS stats for that year, they read kind of funny. FL, that year, had score totals of the following: 120-120-120-120-120-120-120-120-100. Consistency. Jenni quizzed out every time until that final quiz. That final quiz was the last before the finals moved into the Band Room. Rumor has it that Jenni was barely beat out on that final question by a Colorado quizzer. Also, I believe her to be the only quizzer, ever, to single-handedly answer every question for a top five AACS Bible Quiz team. Jenni’s non-quiz out is the one Bible Quiz thing that she still bemoans to this day, but the facts are that over a four-year AACS career, she quizzed in 47 quizzes. Other than “The Greatest Upset of All Time,” she quizzed out in 44 of the 45 quizzes with her final quiz being the lone exception. In addition, again ignoring those two final quizzes in 1993, she never lost points for her team for errors in any of those quizzes.
While statistics are inherently skewed to cast a better light on the person being talked about, I think I can safely say that never before and never since has there been a quizzer like unto Jenni West. In 4 years, she memorized the entire section all four years. That’s 99 chapters, 3108 verses, or 72,764 words. And she knew them well! How well? Of course, she could always quote them all word perfect. “She paused at commas and used the proper voice inflection.” She also quoted the Pauline epistles section word perfect 9 years after quizzing over it (to some of the quizzers quizzing that year) without reviewing the material other than for her typical Bible Studies in nine years.
Her barefoot quizzing style was unique. Her way of getting to be great friends with people on the other teams hasn’t been duplicated. And finally, her winsome approach and nature will never be comprehended. To this day the first question anyone associated with quizzing ever asks me when they hear I am from Florida is, “Have you met Jenni West?” In a state where excellence has been consistently maintained and where David Douglas, Jeff LeMaster, Paul West, John Mark Palacios, and Israel “Bandela” Henriquez all currently reside, it says a lot that she is always first in winning, first in losing, and first in the hearts of her competitors. Truly a worthy recipient of Hall of Fame status!
Use God’s Light, Jenni; you start “The List.”