Athens Classic Recap

Since I started quizzing in 2000, I have witnessed some incredible quizzing duos. Tim Keenan and Matt Harwood led a solid Old Paths team that finished near the top in most tournaments for multiple years and were a John 3:16 question away from being national champs. Breanna Richardson and Abigail Carbonell anchored one of the 2000s’ best quiz teams in First Baptist Church-Central Florida which took down multiple championships. No duo (or team for that matter) could match the impressive run in the late 2000s by siblings Aaron and Autumn Wells of Pleasant View Kentucky. Then as the decade came to an end, David Tyrrell and Kelsey Davies of Calvary Florida cemented their spot in this discussion. Whether Grace Borkert and Erica Olsen of Woodside CO prove to be the next great duo is yet to be determined, but they were absolutely dominating in 2011’s first grand slam tournament. Perhaps there was a quiz in which Woodside was close to getting a loss, but I did not see it. Did I mention this was a double elimination tournament? Their first effort of 2011 ended with the first place trophy in the 16th version of the New Year’s Classic. The other quizzers on Woodside’s team were far more than eye candy. Woodside claims 5 quizzers have the entire text memorized and each quizzer proved he had the ability to get 20 points in a tight spot. Perhaps the most impressive showing from the team occurred when Erica quizzed out late in the tournament. The 6th quizzer came off the bench and promptly beat the other 14 quizzers for the next initial question and seized the 20 points.

It will be very exciting to see how Woodside responds in their next opportunity. I am nearly convinced that there exists a home field disadvantage in Bible Quiz. It could be the responsibility of setting the tournament up or maybe it is the pressure to perform well in front of friends and family who are not normally watching. Either way, something cancels out the benefit of not having to travel (or…perhaps traveling is a good thing.) I could not help but wonder how good Mukwonago WI and Scripture NM are this year and if they can mount a challenge to Woodside before the season is over. Unless one of those two are significantly better than the field at the NYC or the field vastly improves, we may see a grand slam sweep in 2011. That feat hasn’t occurred since 2006 and I am not so sure it had ever happened before Pleasant View KY’s sweep that year.

Beyond Woodside’s great showing, The 2011 New Year’s Classic proved to be a great tournament. Hillsdale continued their climb of recent years by taking 2nd. Bobby Smith proved to be a solid #1 for the Florida team. He had some amazing quizzes, but will have to learn to limit errors and poor quizzes if Hillsdale is to take the next step. Hampton Park surprised me a little by claiming third place. Daniel Flaaten is such a solid quizzer. He quite possibly could use a touch more aggression in tough quizzes, but aggression can be dangerous in Bible Quiz. Hampton Park’s slow and steady approach may have been exactly what was needed to push them as high as third.

Paige Warren and the next batch of Tyrrells proved that Calvary FL will be staying on the main stage for years to come. Their top 5 finish was impressive (Biblequizzer.net would like to give podcast co-host and Calvary coach David Tyrrell zero credit!) One of the biggest surprises of the 2011 NYC was Kettle Moraine WI. Even tournament director Jack Bamford cited what a wonderful surprise it was to have a new team perform so well. Kettle Moraine has much youth and should really be a player in years to come. Heritage Mission showcased their team approach yet again. In recent memory, the New York team has proven that a team without a dominating quizzer can do quite well. Stephanie Ludlow and Glory Lofgren led their first team, while Josh Brown headlined Heritage’s 2nd team. If Josh can minimize his errors and the ladies continue to improve, a combined Heritage Mission team could have a strong showing next month in Denver. Parsippany NJ returned to the national stage and gained another top 10. A program that has been seemingly one step away from the top level for years looks to be in that similar position again this season. With a little improvement, Parsippany could easily find itself battling for top 3 trophies.

Perhaps most surprising to me was the finish by Temple TN. I predicted they would be in the top 3. With Kelton and Arianna Balka and Josh Miljenovic, the potential for this team is through the roof. This squad as a team is still very young and proved to be error prone. A little improvement could launch this team to the top. It was no secret that Calvary SC would have some serious work to do to replace Tyler Ziemer and Casey Lovegrove. With a couple bad breaks and tough quizzes, Calvary SC found themselves barely inside the top 10. I expect they will have much better showings in tournaments to come. Pleasant View KY looked a bit sluggish when I saw them but showed that they have plenty of talent and experience to greatly improve by April. Matthew and Allison will have to step up for PVKY to show well in Denver. Fortunately for them- historically, Pleasant View has owned the CI.

In the next few weeks, Biblequizzer.net will be shifting our coverage to the 2011 Colorado Invitational. With directors/coaches/quizzers interviews, team information, previews, and predictions, Biblequizzer.net will bring you updated coverage of this season’s second grand slam.

David Poston