Members of Olympia High School’s Oly Grail Knowledge Bowl team used a few strategies to clinch the state 4A championship late last month.
The main one: Do not panic.
“Sometimes we freeze under pressure,” said senior Katherine Moore, 17.
This is Olympia High School’s seventh state championship in the tournament’s 34-year history, according to history and government teacher Mike Schaefer.
He co-coaches the school’s Knowledge Bowl team with English teacher Tim Snodgrass.
Two of the South Sound’s smaller schools performed well at the state tournament, too: A team from Pope John Paul II High School in Lacey took the Class 1B title, and a team from Northwest Christian High School in Lacey took third in the 2B tournament.
Knowledge Bowl involves teams of up to six students who compete to answer quiz questions that cover everything from history and geography to science and current events. It’s sort of like Jeopardy, only played in teams.
“I always get offended when people call it trivia,” Schaefer said. “It’s anything but (trivia). It’s content knowledge.”
Oly Grail’s team featured two national merit scholar finalists and a presidential scholar candidate.
“We’re obsessed with random things,” said junior Jeanette Johnson, 16.
“We read Wikipedia for fun,” added Moore.
Their biggest secret weapon? Good old-fashioned high school rivalry.
“Last year, we lost to Camas,” Moore said.
“This year, we had our revenge on them.”
Knowledge Bowl tournaments are fun, but stressful, said senior Levi Overcast, 17.
“It’s almost like being in a frying pan out there,” he said. “It’s nerve-wracking. You can feel yourself sweating.”
A second team from Olympia High, known as Oly Cow, also went to state and took fifth place.
Oly Grail’s other members are seniors Liam Lloyd, 18, and Sherwin Shabdar, 18, who served as team captain.