Around the Horn: AACS Champions Debate

After losing the first Around the Horn, I wanted to hide my embarrassment by becoming the Around the Horn host. With AACS forthcoming, I wanted to interview past champions and see what kind of information they can share. Representing the 1994-95 champions, captain Matt West; Representing the 2003 champions, captain Brant Callaway; Representing the 2004 champions, captain Jeremy Barker; Representing the 2005 champions, captain Breanna Richardson. Hereafter was the session.

Which strategy that no one thinks about makes a big difference at AACS?

Barker’s Answer–I would say that more than at any other tournament, Quotes are of the utmost importance. Think about how many times the crucial question has been a Quote this Verse. Those are questions that can be the separating factor between two otherwise equal teams. Also, I would say being able to be satisfied with a Middle win. High wins should always be your goal, but Coaches and Captains alike should be aware enough to never suffer a Loss for the sake of a chance at a High.

Callaway’s Answer–Slowing down. Since questions at AACS are more challenging, fast, risky quizzing will hurt you there more than it will at other tournaments.

Richardson’s Answer–Having fun. Most teams generally have fun at the other major tournaments but somehow they become stressed out at AACS. My first quizzing at AACS was miserable. I was tired, stressed out, and irritated at my team. That may have been a big contributor to why we lost so early. This last year, I decided I was going to have fun no matter what. And I did and we won.

West’s Answer–I would tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Seriously, Endurance. No one thinks about this, but since most teams travel all weekend, quiz all day Monday, and then start at 8 AM Eastern (California gets the worst of this) shortly after the time change, it makes for some tired quizzers. Making the final 3-4 is often a test of endurance. However, the finals are two days later and endurance rarely plays a roll in that. While I may be chastised for saying this, I think a fair amount of luck is necessary.

Lindsay’s Decision–Wow, I thought this question would be tough, but those are all great answers. Brant brings up a factor that I think we consider the least, so he gets the point.

What is your favorite and least favorite thing about AACS?

Barker’s Answer–I just loved everything about AACS. The competition was great. The fellowship with other teams was great. It is such a blast to spend time with other teens that have poured their lives into the same part of scripture that you have. The quiz mastering is top notch. The notorious questions, albeit sometimes difficult, are quality questions. There is nothing about the quizzing atmosphere I didn’t like. Except losing! And the food at BJU is terrible. Everything else is great!

Callaway’s Answer–The pressure is the best thing about AACS. You feel it leading up to the tournament. You stay up late every night studying for a month in advance because you have visions of other quizzers doing the same thing. Then, it comes down to just one question and you realize that this one moment is the moment that you have spent hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours working towards. Afterwards, especially if you win, you can always remember what a great feeling it is to work so hard for something and achieve it. Least favorite thing – not all teams get to participate. It would be better if the Faith’s and Schaumberg’s had a chance to compete for the national championship.

Richardson’s Answer–Least favorite thing: The Questions. Favorite Thing: standing around in the hallway between rounds. It was kind of nerve wracking at times, but this extra time gave us the opportunity to discuss how we quizzed with our team and coach. Also, this in between time gave us interaction with the other teams. One of the best things I got out of Bible quizzing was the friendships I built with people.

West’s Answer–Well, this may be unique to me, but I really enjoyed the family experience. From the age of five, my dad and mom allowed my sister and I to come and watch his team–it was my favorite week of the year. My wife and I are currently trying to decide when our son can first go! As I got older, I got to see my sister develop friendships with people that seemed to hate me. We knew people from around the country whom we got to see only once a year. I know we see them more often now, but this tournament and the fellowship therein will always be special to me. The only thing I dislike is going home at the end of the week and realizing that the best week of Bible Quiz is 51 weeks away!

Lindsay’s Decision–No one mentioned the chart outside the door. No one mentioned the rooms at Bob Jones and the squeezing in desks after you are eliminated (I guess champions never get to experience this). No one mentioned the band room finals. No one mentioned the asking people whom they saw and how good they were because you couldn’t watch them. But you all mentioned very cool things. Brant accents the culmination of preparation, but I really like Breanna’s description of the in between round time.

What makes AACS different from all the other tournaments?

Barker’s Answer–A lot of what sets apart AACS is it’s prestige. Much of that stems from it’s history, it has always been the benchmark by which great quizzers and teams are judged. Another thing would be the venue. The setting at Bob Jones with thousands of high school students there just helps the tournament feel bigger. Nearly all (Faith MI) of the best teams will be there. It is competitive and it is the final tournament of the year. Your hundreds of hours in one book have all been preparing you for this one tournament, this one quiz, and in many cases, this one question. That is what makes AACS the best tournament.

Callaway’s Answer–The pressure. From the very start in the morning, you can get lows that will last you the rest of the day. Also, this is the tournament that you have been preparing for the entire year and you don’t want to mess that up.

Richardson’s Answer–Well, for one, it’s the National Tournament. The team that wins this tournament is the official National Champions. This is the tournament everyone would love to win, even those who can’t attend this tournament.

West’s Answer–The history. The prestige. The venue. The timing. Dr. Jack Knapp. How results are posted. Dr. Knapp’s entrance door. Facing away from the audience. The medal chairs. Dr. Knapp’s exit door. The pairings. The questions. The Hallway. The waiting. Two Days! The chapel break. The challenges. The extended quiz panel. The quotations above the chalkbaord. The scorekeeper for the audience. The fact that every team who comes won a state tournament to get there and is now known only by that state name. The chokes. The band room finals. Hearing the same jokes every year at those finals. Winning AACS cannot be described, and that can’t be said about any other tournament.

Lindsay’s Decision–I like all your answers, but Matt West really hit everything that I could have said. He gets the point.

Scoreboard–Callaway 1, Richardson 1, West 1. Barker is eliminated!!

Does the best team always win AACS?

Callaway’s Answer–Nope. I don’t think that this is exclusive to AACS either. With the level of competition what it is now, all you can do is make yourself one of the 3-4 teams that have a chance to win. For instance, PVKY is the favorite, but if you gave me them or the field right now, I would go with the field. It’s like the NCAA tournament, if you played it over and over again Duke and UConn would be the most frequent winners, but every now and then Florida will win the championship and George Mason will make it to the Final Four.

Richardson’s Answer–No, the best team may not always win, but no team wins that doesn’t deserve it.

West’s Answer–Of course not. There have been many upsets throughout the years. Usually you have to be among the best to win, but matchups can sometimes yield some funny results. When seeding is based on a different year, while completely fair, it makes for some weird early matchups. I have sat at the computer before with six teams remaining and thought that it put the best three against one another and the bottom three against each other. And sometimes the better team loses 50 points in the error zone trying to get a high win and ends up with a low.

Lindsay’s Decision–To quote Mr. Barker, “the team that wins always is THE National Champion,” but “I think really it is hard to quantify best. The most talented team doesn’t always win; the team that knows it the best doesn’t always win, but the team that was the best on those two days” wins. I guess the real question is would you rather be the best or win AACS. Now, that would really be a good one. Anyway, I think Callaway and Richardson answer this question the best. West, it gives me joy to return the favor and eliminate you!

What is the most important month when attempting to win AACS?

Callaway’s Answer–Well, of course April. If you picked only one month to study for the entire year, it would be your best bet because the material would still be the freshest in your head. Other than April, I’m taking the summer months (can I do this?), it’s where the really great quizzers learn 5-10 chapters so that come April they are just reviewing instead of trying to pick up a few extra chapters.

Richardson’s Answer–The summer months or anytime after AACS ends. Before August, I had memorized over half of 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Within two weeks after the 2004 AACS, I memorized 5 chapters of 2nd Corinthians. If not for those months of memorizing, I wouldn’t have been able to spend to the school year devoted to quoting.

Lindsay’s Decision–Breanna, I like your answer, but I think you missed the overall picture. As Brant mentions that is important, but nothing can substitute for that last month. Callaway wins!!

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