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Team repeats as Academic Bowl champions

October 31, 2008

Will they "three-peat" next year?

The defending champions, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, took home the President's Cup - and $22,000 in prizes and scholarships - after defeating the Herberger College of the Arts in the final round of the 2008 Academic Bowl.

Spirits were high after the heated match in the studios of Eight, with supporters cheering and waving pompons when the final buzzer went off.

Tension mounted early in the evening as the Final Four went head to head – Liberal Arts and Sciences against the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, and the Herberger College against the all-male Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness team.

Then it was down to the final round. Wearing T-shirts that said "Creativity Counts," the Herberger team valiently tried to outwit their Liberal Arts & Sciences classmates. But in the end, time ran out, with the Herberger team losing by a score of 120 to 495.

On the winning team were sisters Erin and Mary Beth Hutchinson, who are majoring in history and global studies and history and religious studies, respectively; Kenneth Lan, a biology major; and Carlos Ross, a Japanese major.

Three of the four were returning team members, and Mary Beth Hutchinson was an alternate last year, so all had Bowl experience.

How do they remember so many facts and figures, historical moments and not-so-famous world figures?

Ross said, "I'm pretty sure Ken's brain is a giant sponge. As for me, I just tend to remember a vast array of things as they grab my attention."

Lan countered, "I tend to think Carlos has the most giant sponge brain. We all remember different arrays, though, which is one thing that helps us a lot."

Erin Hutchinson explained, "My sister and I read a lot so we get a lot of answers from books, magazines, newspapers, etc. We also had really good teachers in high school and we learned a lot of the answers from classes we took like AP European History and British Literature."

This year's Academic Bowl competition started in August, with 500 undergraduate students trying out for 15 school teams. The teams then played 15 matches in a game-show format, leading up to the final round.

The questions, prepared by National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC., covered a wide range of subjects, including psychology, geography, astronomy, mathematics, world history, religion, literature – with a number on Shakespeare's plays – opera, sports, film and theater.

Some questions that would seem to be easy stumped the contestants, such as naming the four railroads on a Monopoly board, while the students breezed through more difficult ones, such as identifying battles in the War of 1812 and characters in the Canterbury Tales.

Colleen Jennings Roggensack, executive director of ASU Gammage, moderated the final round.

The Academic Bowl is co-sponsored by the offices of Public Affairs and Student Affairs.

"We started the Academic Bowl to focus attention on student academic achievement," said Virgil Renzulli, ASU vice president for public affairs.

"Anyone who watched the matches had to be impressed with how knowledgeable our students are. They were able to answer many, many extremely difficult questions spanning art and music, history and current events, science and pop culture."

While the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences team emerged as the victors, all of the students who tried out and competed on the 15 teams surely were winners, too.

Quentin D. Wheeler, dean of the College of Liberal arts and Sciences, agrees.

"From my perspective they each learn a great deal about themselves, stretching their intellectual limits, and working together as a team," he said.

"As dean, I was proud of both their outstanding showing and their good sportsmanship cheering on their opponents when they beat them to an answer.

"A liberal arts education prepares you to meet the unexpected in life and each member of the team has demonstrated that fact to themselves and to us."

The finals, which were taped on competition night, will be aired on Eight at 5 p.m., Nov. 16.