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ASU wins College Bowl regional tourney

February 23, 2008

The top-ranked Arizona State University Academic Bowl team took nine out of 10 matches to win the College Bowl Regional Championship Tournament Feb. 23 in Colorado Springs.

The ASU team, from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, won all six matches in Friday’s preliminary round and then won three of the four double-elimination playoff matches Saturday to earn the regional championship title. The team competed against players from the University of New Mexico and the University of Wyoming in the playoffs. The only match ASU lost was to the UNM, which came in second in the tournament.

Playing for ASU were captain Carlos Ross, a senior majoring in Japanese; Erin Hutchinson, a senior majoring in history and global studies; Kenneth Lan, a freshman majoring in biology; and Eli Bliss, a graduate student who received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics this past December. Michael Rockwell, a senior majoring in political science and the team’s alternate, also competed in one of the rounds.

“The University of New Mexico was an excellent team,” according to Ross. Its captain, Jason Zuffranieri, played for ASU in the College Bowl 10 years ago as an undergraduate student, majoring in chemical engineering and math.

In the double-elimination rounds against UNM, ASU won 385 to 205, then lost 120 to 370, before coming back to win the tournament 440 to 205.

“That’s a high scoring game for both teams; points were going in all directions,” said Brian Gleim, the ASU coach and a graduate student in astrophysics who has competed in previous College Bowls. “The final game was going to be decisive. Both teams were attacking the questions furiously.”

The ASU team “interrupted” often during toss-up questions with winning answers to dominate play and earn bonus points.

“Eli was on fire,” Ross said.

So was Ross.

“The most amazing question that a member of our team got was definitely when Carlos was able to name a type of tree (spruce) after only hearing the genus it was in,” Hutchinson said. “That was really crazy. I think my favorite part of competing was being continually amazed by the answers of my teammates. I kept thinking, ‘How do they know this stuff?’”

Besides UNM and University of Wyoming, the ASU team competed against the University of Arizona, Colorado State University, New Mexico State University and Weber State University in the preliminary rounds.

Winning against the UA team 275 to 105 was like winning “the mental version of the Territorial Cup,” Ross said, referring to the annual football match-up between the two rival universities.

ASU’s team was sponsored in the regional tournament by Undergraduate Student Government and Student Affairs. The regional win qualifies the team for the 2008 National Championship Tournament April 25-27 at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. ASU hosted the national tournament in 1996.

In October, the team from the College of Liberal of Sciences team won ASU's second Academic Bowl. The competition featured entries from 16 of ASU's colleges and schools. For more information about the ASU Academic Bowl at