Head Coach Coady Shawcroft knew his students had to win their second-to-last match to have hope of making the playoffs, but when he saw the opponent, he knew it would be a tall order.
Shawcroft and Grand Junction High School's quiz bowl team traveled to Atlanta last weekend for the 2019 High School National Championship Tournament for the fourth consecutive year under Shawcroft's leadership.
The team went 4-6 in 10 matches, just missing a spot in the playoffs.
With two matches left, the team needed a win to have a chance at a winning record, but had to face defending national champion Plano West High School from Texas. Plano came out on top, meaning the Tigers would not advance.
"It was brutal luck," Shawcroft said.
Grand Junction's quiz bowl squad consisted of 10 students — Evan Ancell, David Barron, Katreena Bass, Andrew Bennett, Anthony Booth, Addison Chambers, Amanda Gordon, James Rasmussen, Parker Stacy and Noah Terlouw. The group subbed in and out to form a team of four players in head-to-head matchups against other competing schools. The tournament brought out 336 teams from 38 states, Washington D.C. and South Korea.
To qualify, Grand Junction had to finish in the top two at the Colorado Knowledge Bowl state championships in March. The team won its seventh state title in the past 10 years this year, beating Boulder High School. Boulder also attended nationals and went 5-5 in their 10 matches.
Grand Junction High has managed to qualify in each of Shawcroft's four years as head coach. "It's pretty tricky, but so far we've managed to do it," said Shawcroft, who is also a Grand Junction High School alum from the class of 2009 and played on the knowledge bowl teams.
In Atlanta, the team played their matches over three days. Shawcroft said the format is not exactly the same as the state knowledge bowl, but very similar. At nationals the teams face off head-to-head and use a buzzer to ring in and answer questions about science, math, history, literature, mythology, geography, social science, current events, sports and popular culture.
Shawcroft said it was really special to see all 10 members of the team get to play and each answer at least one question.
"It's really special that everyone go to play, got a question and contributed," he said.