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FairfaxEducationLongfellow students find success in Quiz Bowl tourney

Longfellow students find success in Quiz Bowl tourney

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Two teams from Longfellow Middle School competed with 139 top middle-school Quiz Bowl teams – and one Longfellow team took home the top prize – on May 7 at the 2022 Middle School National Championship Tournament in Rosemont, Il.

Quiz Bowl is a competitive academic and interscholastic activity for teams of four students. Teams use buzzers to answer questions on a wide variety of topics.

The matches, held this year at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, feature a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, since no one player was likely to be an expert in all subject areas.

Longfellow Middle School sent two teams to the tournament. The A Team consisted of Edward Burros, Aarushi Kanigicherla, Sarah Trainer and Anthony Zhao. The B Team was composed of Sam Cohen, Sophia Guo, Eddie Lin and Alan Tang. Both teams were coached by Eugene Huang.


Longfellow entered two of the four Virginia teams competing at the national championship.

Longfellow’s A Team began the preliminary rounds with a four-game winning streak and finished the preliminary rounds with a 7-1 record, which qualified it for the playoffs. Longfellow’s B Team began the preliminary rounds with a three-game winning streak and finished the preliminary rounds with a 6-2 record, which also qualified it for the playoffs.

There were some tense moments. The B Team defeated Harker from San Jose, Calif., by the narrow margin of 340-320 during Round 3.

After 17 grueling games, Longfellow’s A Team emerged victorious, the best among the 141 teams in the field.

This is Longfellow’s first Middle School National Championship, though not the school’s first appearance in the finals. In 2011, 2012 and 2015, Longfellow teams were defeated in the final match and took home second place.

Longfellow’s B Team competed in four playoff games this year before being knocked out of contention and finishing in fifth place.

Huang, who has been involved with Longfellow Middle’s Quiz Bowl program for 14 years, said he selects teams whose members can cover the subjects of history, literature, science, geography, religion, fine arts, mythology and popular culture.

“The best team is a jigsaw puzzle of teammates who can cover the most ground,” he said.

Longfellow team members study Quiz Bowl questions all year. Huang also gives lectures on certain topics, and the students research the most commonly asked answer lines. In addition, team members attend numerous local tournaments for practice and to qualify for nationals.

The 141 teams in this year’s tournament hailed from 24 states plus South Korea. Games had 20 toss-up questions, each followed by a three-part bonus that whole teams could work together on, but had only a few seconds to answer, Huang said.

“The hardest part of the competition is buzzing in too early, which gives you negative points and gives the other team a chance to answer all by themselves,” he said.

Participation in Quiz Bowl both reinforces lessons from the classroom and encourages players to develop new intellectual interests, officials said.
“Students get exposed to a wide range of topics that they will encounter in school and in life,” Huang said. “It’s a jumping off point to more in-depth study of just about anything.”

Certain traits give participants an edge in the competition – and in life as well.

“A good Quiz Bowler loves knowledge, has laser focus, has a short memory when things go bad and keeps emotions in check,” Huang said.

National Academic Quiz Tournaments, founded in 1996, organizes the premier middle-school, high-school and college Quiz Bowl championships in North America. In addition to its national championships, the organization provides questions to invitational tournaments, league championships and television shows throughout the year. For more information, visit www.naqt.com.

Sophia Guo, Alan Tang, Eddie Lin and Sam Cohen of Longfellow Middle School’s Quiz Bowl Team B pose with the fifth-place trophy they received in May at the 2022 Middle School National Championship Tournament in Rosemont, Il. (Photo contributed)
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