The Baylor Quiz Bowl wrapped up its first ever Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions on May 10 by crowning Alex Robinson and Kristopher Kennedy as the Jeopardy! Kings of the school.
The tournament grew a strong crowd as eighteen teams of two participated. It opened with six quarterfinal match-ups of three teams each. The winner of each automatically qualified for a spot in the semifinals. The three highest scoring non winning teams of the quarterfinals also got bids into the semifinals.
Team Alex Robinson and Kristopher Kennedy, Atherton Mook and Jackson Collette, Eric Huang and Elias Marler, Lorenzo White and Nolan Cummings, Jack Holcombe and Michael Gullage, and Owen Eastman and Jack Smith each won their respective games with Team Alec Coussoule and Greyson Linderman, Collin Ahern and Gehrig Ebel, and Nick Kurtz and Ivan Reap each getting at large bids into the second round.
Each of the three semifinal games was comprised of two champions and one at large team. Jack Holcombe and Michael Gullage and Atherton Mook and Jackson Collette each coasted to victory in their respective games. The third semifinal game raised controversy, however. Upon his partner falling ill on the eve of the match, Nick Kurtz requested a substitution of Greyson Linderman for Ivan Reap. On the decision to allow such a substitution, Quiz Bowl co-president Baird Thoni says, “Frankly, I didn’t think it would be an issue because Greyson had already lost twice in the tournament, and Alex and Kristopher were arguably one of the strongest competitors in the tournament.” And yet it did indeed matter after Greyson and Nick risked all their money to pull ahead of Alex and Kristopher who wagered too small a bet on a Final Jeopardy. Soon after, Alex and Kristopher filed a petition against the game, claiming an illegal substitution that was eventually reviewed and deemed illegal by the the quiz bowl presidents, resulting in a head to head rematch between Alex and Kristopher and Nick and his true part, Ivan Reap. The next week, Alex and Kristopher squeezed into the championship with a slight victory over Ivan and Nick.
On the championship morning, Team Alex and Kristopher paid for the trouble that they raised as Kristopher overslept, leaving Alex alone to compete against the other two teams each comprised of intellectual juggernauts. After the competition, Alex admitted he “was a bit worried about [his] chances against such stark competition.” He went on to say, “When Kristopher didn’t show up, I wondered if it was even worth it for me to stay and compete. I ended up going on a tear through a couple sections and gained a lead, and I think that took the others off guard.”
He went on a tear indeed. Going into Double Jeopardy, Alex had built up over a thousand dollar lead, and he would never be caught as he finished as the final champion of the tournament. “It was a lot of fun to compete against very competitive, intelligent, and willing competition,” he says. “I never found myself particularly good at trivia, and I think competing against such outstanding competition really boosted my game.”
Though his team did not win, Jack Holcombe was named unanimous MVP of the tournament after answering questions from a wide variety of topics, spanning anywhere from science to pop culture. He most notably swept the “Grammy Winning Women” category.
The hosts of the tournament, Quiz Bowl Presidents Alex Mozingo, Baird Thoni, and Wiley Pippenger were very happy with the popularity of the tournament and hopes it will leave a lasting impression on the school. On the matter of the tournament, Mozingo says “We got involved with Quiz Bowl a couple of years ago with really smart upperclassmen like Talus Iorio and Clay Thames, who are now both at Yale, and really started to love it. Eventually we needed something to do on Tuesdays when Mr. Burner, our coach, could not meet with us, so we started to play Jeopardy. Eventually we just decided that it would be really fun to introduce it to the school and maybe make the same impression on some of the younger folks that Talus and Clay had on us.” Further on how they got into Jeopardy, Baird recalls, “One weekend in November as we drove up for a basketball tournament, Wiley sat next to me and we watched like five games on Netflix that day. The next week we got a piece of paper and started writing down categories from the Jeopardy archive website during a free period, and after around 500 games played later, the rest is history.”
The Presidents wish to thank all participants and teachers that lent their classrooms for the tournament, and they hope this tradition will be carried forward through the coming years.