In a surprise, the Pettisville High School Academic Quiz Team qualified for national competition, Saturday, Nov. 18.
The team, also known as The Nerd Herd, finished an unexpected third at the Hicksville Invitational Tournament, a qualifier for the National Academic Quiz Tournaments.
Rebecca Dorosz, coach, said she was told as a team competing for the first time in an NAQT event, she should be happy if her squad could win one game.
There were 18 teams in the tournament, including Wauseon, Swanton, and Evergreen. PHS was the smallest school to field a team, with a high school enrollment of about 250.
The biggest school to participate was Tiffin Columbian, with an enrollment of about 840.
Jacob Myers, senior team captain, said, “The tournament was pretty tough. There were several good teams.
“We knew we would do decently, but when we beat Tiffin Columbian, then it started to sink in that we had a chance to qualify for nationals.”
Sarah Herring, a fouryear member, said, “I was surprised we did that well, especially when (Dorosz) said, ‘let’s just aim for fifth,’ and then we got third!”
Dorosz said The Nerd Herd not only qualified for NAQT small school nationals, but the large school national event, as well.
“We do intend to travel to the Small School Nationals,” which will be held just outside Chicago in April.
Was the NAQT competition more difficult, with tougher questions?
“Yes, the questions are harder, but we’ve been able to practice them more this season and I felt pretty ready,” Myers said.
“It helps that the school let us join a league (the Toledo Area League) that uses those questions.”
Herring said, “I think some of the questions were harder and generally more obscure, but I feel that the longer questions allow more time for you to think about what is being asked, at least for me.
“I also feel that some of the questions were easier because sometimes, you get that set of bonus questions that are really easy compared to the rest of the questions.”
The Nerd Herd did so surprisingly well at Hicksville, it was named the NAQT High School Team of the Week on Facebook.
The caption with the team picture states, “Pettisville High School (Pettisville, OH) is our #naqtHSteam oftheweek, for their performance at the Hicksville Invitational.”
“At the conclusion of the tournament, the tournament director posted his surprise at our success, along with some statistics about our town,” Dorosz said.
In an article Dorosz wrote to go along with the Team of the Week honor, she said, “Pettisville, Ohio, population 498, is a small town with no stoplight, no gas station, no shopping mall, and fields in every direction.
“Within the town is a gem of a school, where students– PK-12 all in one building– know how to work hard and achieve at high levels with an entire community cheering them on.
“The students on our team aren’t just quizzers. The team… is comprised of multi-sport athletes, student government leaders, musicians, actors, FFA and FCCLA members, and artists, with most also holding part-time jobs.
“That’s what you do in a small school.
“Quiz bowl is just one of the many things they are involved in, but they commit to it fully, and that’s why I am most proud of them.
“Participating in quiz bowl is one of the ways they are preparing themselves to be more successful in the real world as they cultivate confidence, develop their intuition, and expand knowledge.”
She said the team averages more than 30 members a year, “which is even more impressive when you consider our school graduates approximately 45 each year.
“Yes, that means about 20% of our high school is on the academic quiz team.”
Herring said she’s “extremely excited about nationals. I can’t wait to go to Chicago and compete against some of the smartest high schoolers in America.”
Myers said, “It’s really cool that we were able to qualify for nationals at the first tournament of the year, and I’m pretty excited to see what our team can do throughout the rest of the season.”
“I am thrilled that we will be going to nationals. It was a goal of ours this year, and it’s wonderful that the kids exceeded expectations so early in the season,” Dorosz said.
“I am so proud of their success.”–David Pugh