Top Quizzers, part 2

In an article last week, I made a case for Bobby Smith (Hillsdale FL) as this season’s top quizzer. I’ve discussed my article with several people since it was posted and have yet to hear anyone disagree or even hint that my opinion is wrong. Having said that, it is undeniable that there are several other strong quizzers rounding out the top 5. In fact, Bobby mentioned a couple of times that he was not at all shocked to hear Patience’s named called ahead of his at CI. Then, at the Blue Ridge Invitational last Saturday, Shelby Ziemer (Bethel SC) edged out Smith for the top spot.  (Speaking of Blue Ridge, Cullen Baggett (Temple TN) and Dalton Croy (Athens GA) backed up their “top quizzer” performances at CI with another one at the Matthews, NC tournament.) Beyond the two previously mentioned ladies that have shared the spotlight with Bobby, a few others join an elite group of contenders for the 2013 top individual spot.

There have been recent discussions among some Bible Quiz fanatics concerning the current state of quiz relative to where Quiz was 10-15 years ago. Personally, I have been concerned at the number of elite quiz programs and perhaps more concerned with a trend of quiz programs leaning heavily on one adult sponsor or one family. Such programs seem to have a short life expectancy. But even if concern about the quantity of solid quiz programs is valid, there is no question concerning the quality of 2013’s top quizzers. This group is as solid as ever. At the top of the contenders list is Patience Lofgren. After having been less involved in national quizzing than some of her siblings had been, Patience burst onto the quiz scene last year. What she lacked in experience, she made up for with a knowledge and recall of the text unmatched by most. She has returned this season with a similar approach, yet more dangerous as she has more elite quizzing experience under her belt. While I have heard that this is her senior season, we will have to check with Mr. Lofgren to verify that. As seen at CI, there is such a slim difference between Bobby and Patience that a solid argument could be made in her favor as it relates to this debate. Regardless of a trivial title, Patience will be a force to be reckoned with in April for Hillsdale and all other teams looking to get past Heritage Mission for tournament championships. Her consistent approach of stacking up correct answers while limiting errors puts her at the top of elite company.

If anyone can match Patience’s knowledge and recall, it’s Shelby Ziemer. Since her brother Tyler’s quizzing days at Calvary (SC), the quiz world has had to take notice when hearing the Ziemer name. And if you don’t take notice, Roscoe (Shelby’s legendary father) will certainly make you aware! Though Tyler’s solid career is a few years past, Shelby’s is just hitting its stride. Since her sister Tamara and she have committed themselves to quizzing at an elite level, they have been steadily improving tournament by tournament. Though sadly she will not get a say-so in what happens in April, I would be remiss to leave her out of this conversation. Expect her to challenge for and possibly earn the individual top spot in the years to come. Did I mention she ended her season as Blue Ridge’s top individual quizzer?

Though Sarah Vander Pluym might not jump out at you at first glance, she answered more questions correctly at CI than either Patience or Shelby. With a teammate as solid as Samuel Fuller (6th individual at CI), Sarah can take a strong approach to each quiz without the pressure of having to do it alone. Kettle Moraine’s top duo is right at the top of any twosome in quiz, with perhaps only Temple TN making a strong argument for their top two. Kettle Moraine has committed to growing its program and has traveled to nearly as many tournaments in the past couple of years as any other quiz program on our radar. Look for that experience to pay off sooner rather than later as this team looks to take the next step. And it couldn’t be in a better situation than having Sarah leading the team toward its goal. It will be interesting to see how she stacks up against Bobby and Patience if a repeat of CI’s final 3 teams happens at either SCQANIT or AACS (nationals.)

Lest you think only the ladies are squaring off with Bobby for the top spot, in steps Cullen Baggett. The common theme thus far among the contenders has been their sharp knowledge of the text. Yet no quizzer can make a stronger argument for having knowledge of Acts than this Temple quizzer can. Before most people knew his name, they were well aware that he was a quoting machine. Quickly the question became: will he be able to master the ins and outs of quizzing, specifically in how to approach the various types of quiz questions. Under the tutelage of Mike Balka and the Temple coaching staff, Cullen has quickly become one of the nation’s premier young quizzers. Though he does not have the experience or quizzing maturity of those at the top of this list, he also will be battling for the top spot sooner rather than later.

While the list could stretch a bit farther to places like Mukwonago (WI), Calvary (SC), and even Athens (GA), these 4 round out my personal top 5 and pose the biggest threat to knocking Bobby off the perch in 2013. Regardless of who fills your list or whether you have a list or not, one thing is certain—April is going to be one for the ages!

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