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MLHS Knowledge Bowl heads to nationals after winning state

by CASEY MCCARTHY
Staff Writer | April 26, 2021 1:00 AM

Moses Lake High School’s Knowledge Bowl team is preparing for a national invitational tournament May 1, hosted by Colorado Knowledge Bowl, after claiming first place at the state-level invitational competition March 17.

MLHS students Deegan Bator, Robbin Mensonides, Derek O’Brien, Bridget Kaldor, Delanie Vallely and Sam Otey took the top spot at the tournament in Wenatchee. All team members expect Otey will advance to the national competition in May, even though Otey was unable to participate in March due to involvement in another event.

The Chiefs academic squad took the top spot for 2A, 3A and 4A schools at the state-level invitational tournament, defeating every team they faced on their way. The MLHS Knowledge Bowl team has had a lot of success in recent years, winning the 4A State competition in 2016 and 2017, and taking third place in 2019.

Brooke Frederick is the MLHS Knowledge Bowl academic coach and a teacher at the high school. Frederick said this year’s competition was strange, with things happening via virtual platforms, such as Zoom or Discord.

“Some schools in the state didn’t even have it at all, but our school was really good about allowing us to compete and our kids really enjoyed it,” Frederick said.

He said his team was really excited about taking first place in the state-level event. Frederick said a few of his students went to band practice after the event and later heard from band director Dan Beich the team couldn’t help but share their excitement.

Frederick said this year’s group works really well together, which is a benefit in the “team-Jeopardy format” Knowledge Bowl brings. With these competitions, he said sometimes it helps to have one person lead the group, but said this year’s MLHS team has contributions from all the team members.

Frederick said his team does a good job of complementing each other’s strengths.

“It’s just the working together,” Frederick said. “When they buzz in at these competitions they get 15 seconds to (talk) amongst themselves to discuss the answer and a lot of times if they really work together, they are able to come up with an answer even if they weren’t sure when they rang in.”

He said that will be the main thing he focuses on heading into the national competition, collaborating as a team. The team got seven competitions in this season with schools from the North Central Washington area, about the same number they have in a normal season.

Frederick said he’s not sure what format the national competition will be, but his team has preferred Zoom and Discord formatted events to others, where they’re not able to coordinate as much.

Fortunately, he said he knows the competition May 1 will involve everyone on the team together in one room, something he’s looking forward to in a strange season.

Frederick said having any club or team like the Knowledge Bowl is a great way to connect with students beyond the classroom.

“I’ve done coaching in the past and I’ve been a Key Club adviser for many years, and any time you get to interact with the kids outside the classroom is a lot of fun,” Frederick said. “I enjoy the classroom too, but it’s a different interaction.”