Elementary Final Review

by Matt West

The elementary finals began with an array of teams from multiple states.    The interesting thing about this tournament is that there have been 8 years of this tournament.  This year would complete our first run through the 9-year cycle.  As I look back at all the great quizzers we’ve had, some have gone on to great things at the high school level, some have been decent quizzers in the upper levels, some have stories that are not yet completed, and some fell off into anonymity.  But two things have been constant.  First, they have all learned verses!  Second, a team from Florida has always managed to pull it out in the Finals.  Could it be that we could go through an entire 9-year cycle of Bible Quiz without another state pulling a champion?

As we entered the day, there were two teams from Florida.  Both were coming in as underdogs to the Tennessee state champion and the Pennsylvania state champion.  As we went through the round robin, Old Paths and Temple seemed to be the best two teams, but Open Door showed flashes of being able to beat anyone in a particular quiz.  The Faith team from Florida was clearly the youngest team and they did not look like they could challenge either of the top two teams in their round robin quizzes.  But, in the last quiz for the Round Robin, they came down to the final question against Open Door and maybe, just maybe they would be there.

Now, for a quick scouting report on each of the top four teams.

Old Paths Pennsylvania was an extraordinarily accurate team.  The team had 5 errors in 5 quizzes in the morning.  They had two quizzers (the Cler brother-sister tandem) who were capable of quizzing out in any quiz and their other two quizzers, Bethy and Michaela, were both outstanding quoters who could also answer questions.  This team was beatable, but they would not beat themselves.

Temple Tennessee is almost the polar opposite of Old Paths.  They were exceedingly dynamic, beating the two Florida teams by an average of over 200 points.  They had four quizzers who attempted to get up on seemingly every question.  While they could score in bunches, they also would take chances and make errors.  Nathaniel Miljeonvic, Abraham Black, and Grant Balka were all capable of getting several questions in a row and I’m confident that Carson and Mikeala could have done well had they not been with the dynamic three.

Open Door Florida has never reached the level of success they had with Grace D’Amico, but they finally had a team capable of competing on every question.  They were similar to Temple stylistically, but they were a step slower.  They were fast enough to encourage the teams ahead of them to jump faster, increasing the chances of those teams getting errors.  Coleman Bernal and Joseph Young were great, but I wonder what would have happened if Joshua Singh would have joined them.  Cami Bernal and Hannah Allen were exceedingly accurate, but they were dominated by the boys.

Faith Florida was, by far, the youngest team here.  Their top quizzer for the year, Meigan Kacir, had broken her foot and was forced to use the handicap buzzer.  She was not up to her normal standards.  Emily Thomas is a steady captain for this otherwise young team, and she did her job well.  Joshy Curtiss is a quoting machine, and he was very good on finish this verse questions.  Jacob West tried in a few quizzes and when he did, he answered questions.  This team was substantially slower than the others, and other than the chapters Caleb Arguna (who had out of country family coming to stay at his house) had specialized in, the team was really accurate.

The semifinals were a pair of best two-out-of-three series.

In the Temple-Open Door series, both quizzes were similar.  Temple got an early lead, Open Door got a few questions to tighten the gap, but Temple made a run from questions 13-17 to pull away for good.  Open Door felt like they could have won if Temple had just missed a 50-50 or two, but in the end, Temple won.

The Faith-Old Paths series took a little different tenor.  Old Paths slowed down dramatically, knowing that Faith, being so young, was slower to jump.  Joshy Curtiss got a couple of early finishes, Emily Thomas and Meigan Kacir both got a few questions, and by the time Old Paths decided to speed up again, Jacob West decided it was time for him to get two questions in a row.  Improbably, Faith was able to get a win in one quiz.  However, it was close, and Old Paths was confident they were they better team.  While the scores looked close in the two quizzes, Old Paths never really was concerned and won both pretty handily.  They were impressed that the Faith team might be a team to reckon with in years to come.

That set up the championship quiz between Old Paths and Temple.  This was certainly a tale of three completely different quizzes.  Quiz One, Temple dominated from the start.  They made but one error in the first ten questions and led by over 100 going into question 11.  Old Paths did not panic, but did not challenge either.  Temple won handily.  In the second quiz, the exact opposite happened.  Temple made 7 errors early and was down by over 100 by question 12.  Old Paths won handily and never really looked challenged.

That brought us to the all-decisive quiz three.  In this quiz, Old Paths fell behind early.  Behind Nathaniel and Grant, Temple went ahead 80-0.  Then Tim Cler decided it was his time to shine.  He got two questions in a row, and Temple sped up and made three errors in the next four questions to leave the quiz tied after ten questions.  From question 11-15, Charity Cler proved why she was the highest quizzer of the day, as she got three questions.  Old Paths led 180-110 going into the error zone.  A key error on question 17 by Temple won the quiz for Old Paths, who hung on despite Temple having all five quizzers answer a question in the final.

Temple Tennessee seems to have turned into a team that always gets second place.  If anyone can understand that situation, it is the Old Paths team, whose coach Daniel Keenan was on at least ten teams that finished second or third and never seemed to win a national-level tournament.  Daniel said he was very happy to trade roles with the Temple and move into a winning tradition as a coach.

It was an incredible event and we hope that everyone can come next year.  Please contact anyone at this website if you have any interest in fielding an elementary team next year.

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