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College academic champs net national spot


February 17, 2009

The ASU Academic Bowl winning team from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was nudged out of a regional championship by the University of California, Los Angeles, at the Feb. 7 tournament. Following a close rematch in the final round, the ASU team came in second, but played well enough to earn a wild card for the national tournament.

This is the second time in as many years that the Liberal Arts and Sciences team has been invited to represent ASU at a national academic tournament.

Representing ASU’s wild card team are captain Erin Hutchinson, a senior majoring in global studies; Kenneth Lan, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences; Mary Beth Hutchinson, a sophomore majoring in religious studies and history; and Carolyn Moss, a junior majoring in history.

“I didn’t know what to expect going into the competition,” said Mary Beth Hutchinson. “The games were a lot more energetic, nerve racking and competitive compared to the ASU Academic Bowl. We faced a higher caliber of teams with universities like the California Institute of Technology and Stanford.”

In talking about the types of questions in competitive play, she noted her team is not strong in sports, but was able to answer key questions. “Erin and my family followed the Phoenix Suns and Pittsburgh Steelers growing up,” she said. “Our family’s favorite player is Dan Majerle. When a question came up about him, within the first five seconds Erin knew the answer.”

During the match, when the score was tied, a toss-up question was asked about the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I knew the answer and it helped us get ahead in a very close game. It’s fun when you can answer questions that not only relate to your academic strengths but relate to you personally as well.”

The national Intercollegiate Championship Tournament is set for April 3-4 at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. It is organized by the National Academic Quiz Tournaments.

Among the other teams invited to the national competition are: the University of Alabama; Carleton College; Carnegie Mellon University; Case Western Reserve University; University of Chicago; Cornell University; Davidson College; Gonzaga University; Grinnell College; Hunter College; McMaster University; Miami University, Ohio; University of Michigan; Mississippi State University; University of Missouri, Columbia; Ohio State University; Princeton University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; University of California, Los Angeles; Vanderbilt University; University of Virginia; Washington University in St. Louis; and Yale University.

In the Feb. 7 regional tournament held at UCLA, the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences team dominated play in the final rounds of the competition and at one point was declared winner of the tournament against UCLA. A protest to the answer of a toss up question resulted in a rematch. The question was: “Name this clade of angiosperms that includes the grass family and is defined by having a single leas?”

Team captain Erin Hutchinson answered “monocotali” but the answer was either “monocot” or “monocotyledon.” To resolve the protest the teams agreed to a rematch and UCLA won 170-160.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences team won last year’s ASU Academic Bowl, came out on top in regional play, and then seventh in the national tournament.