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WHS Academic Team Wins Thrilling Match On Last Question On the It’s Academic TV Show

by Nathaniel Mulitauaopele

The Walkersville Academic team won their first televised turn in Baltimore on Saturday Dec 16th.

Three high school teams competed: Walkersville, Hammond, and Christian Salisbury. The event “didn’t start until 11:30” said coach John Van Bloem due to a late running recording of the show that preceded the academic match.

“Everyone was there by 11:00” said Van Bloem. The team had thirty minutes of idle time to use before the match, probably for practice and mental preparation.

There were three students from Walkersville that were able to compete in the show: senior Roshni Patel, senior Susanna Chen, and junior Ryan Puthumana.  

Each team started off with 100 points in the first round and buzzed in to answer questions for ten points. Walkersville answered four questions correct that round leading Hammond by twenty points and Salisbury Christian by 30. The scores were:

Walkersville 140, Hammond 130, Salisbury 110.

The next round was a no buzzer round where teams answer a set of five questions for twenty points. Walkersville answered all of their questions correctly maintaining their lead over Hammond and Salisbury, who ended up with the same score by the end of the round. The scores were:

Walkersville 240, Hammond 210, Salisbury 210.

The third round was another buzzer round and Walkersville maintained its dominance over Hammond and Salisbury. WIthout missing a beat, Walkersville gained a 70 point lead on Hammond who lead Salisbury by 20 points. The scores were:

Walkersville 300, Hammond 230, Salisbury 210.

The fourth round was another packet round, except this time there was eight questions and if a team answered all eight questions correctly they would gain an additional 25 point bonus. Walkersville answered their questions first and got all eight of them correct. Hammond and Salisbury were unable to follow suit, Hammond missed the bonus by one question. Salisbury at this point had been in last during the whole competition and didn’t answer enough questions to bring them within range of any of the other two teams. The scores were:

Walkersville 485, Hammond 370, Salisbury 270.

The fifth round was another buzzer round. This was the hardest round and Hammond had begun to make a major comeback. They answered five questions in the last round and didn’t miss. It came down to the last question where Walkersville buzzed in just as time ran out and answered a question that if missed would have cost them the game. The question was “What Mongol leader had a name that started with a T?” The answer was “Timur” who founded the Timurid empire.  Walkersville had 485 points from the previous round and Hammond had made a tremendous climb to 480 points. If Walkersville had answered the last question wrong they would have dropped down twenty points, allowing Hammond to win. The final scores were:

Walkersville 515, Hammond 480, Salisbury 270.

“It was intense,” said Roshni Patel, “We were wary to buzz in during the last round and lose our lead. They definitely gave us a run for our money.”

Hammond’s come back in the last round was completely unexpected for the team.

“They started trying,” said Puthumana “We were getting relaxed in the last round” and as a result the match came down to the wire. But in the end Puthumana was able to save the game by correctly answering the last question that would have put Walkersville behind if they answered incorrectly.

The game otherwise was a huge success for the Walkersville team. “We only got one question wrong in the last round” said Puthumana.

“I was nervous at first, but I had good teammates and they helped calm me down,” said Patel. The environment of the studio made each of the contenders nervous “bright lights, the camera, an audience. It’s not like practice,” Puthumana said.

Chen had the same opinion stating “We can all say we’re really used to the relaxed environment in practices where in between questions we can crack jokes or listen to Van Bloem’s historically relevant anecdote related to the question.”

“But in the studio you’re surrounded by bright lights and an audience and also the pressure of the camera so there are a lot more distractions. What I try to remember is to be confident in my playing abilities and that I’ve been playing this game for almost four years.”  

Certainly, having Chen on the team who has competed for all of her years of high school is a benefit for the others on the team. The perfect four rounds they had must have also did wonders for each of the contender’s confidences as well.  

“I think it really was just the initial adrenal rush which pushed us forward those first questions. We were all feeling energetic and keeping on our toes when listening to Mr. Zahn read the questions,”  said Chen upon their success during the first four rounds.

But she didn’t let her overconfidence be the bane of her.  “I’ve learned that the worst thing to do in a match is to let the high of success get to you. I find that I lay the best when I just keep going and thinking of getting that next question” she said.

After the match was over the team applauded Puthumana on saving them from a humiliating defeat and regrouped to discuss the outcome of the match.

The Walkersville team looks promising this year, and they should do really well when the regular season rolls around. Until then the team will be rigorously practicing for their games to come.