Scholars finish with state ranking
Bowl members look back on improvements throughout season
It's the end of the season for the Lansing High School scholar bowl team, and its members are confident the team has progressed and is climbing its way back to the top.
The team placed fifth at state, but the real significance comes from the fact that this was the first year in a while the team has even qualified for the meet.
"Just to get to state for the first time in a few years means a lot," said Eric Hansen, 17, a senior on the team. "It was really good. It was the furthest we've gotten in 5A competition."
Hansen said his goal throughout his four years on the team was to match some of the accomplishments of an LHS team that in the 1990s won the state competition three years in a row. While his team didn't manage that, he said he was proud of the fact team members worked hard and showed obvious improvement.
Team coach and LHS English teacher Ginny Scott said she especially saw the improvement the team made not only this year as the season went on, but in the last four years that Hansen has been a member of the team.
"I'm always very proud," Scott said, "especially after getting to work with a team as good as this scholar bowl team."
She said this year's team was a group of humble winners and gracious losers, which has made the season more fun. In her 25 years as the scholar bowl coach, Scott has seen plenty of talented teams, but she said this year's team really managed to step up and compete at a higher level of competition.
After a long three-hour drive Saturday, Feb. 9, the five team members who went to state - Hansen, Ezra Carpenter, 17, Clayton Hall, 16, Josh Kranhold, 17, and Hal Laurence, 17 - unloaded their van in Wichita with winning on their mind.
The team members had been preparing for months. They increased practices and went through more sheets that contain practice questions. They made large cards with different foreign language phrases that were then translated perfectly. They also met with LHS teachers who specialized in areas such as algebra to brush up on the basics.
When the competition started, it was obvious there would be a long road ahead. Laurence said the questions asked at state were much harder than any competition the team had been to earlier in the year. But the LHS team was on a mission, and the end looked bright when Lansing tied for third place with Bishop Carroll High School and Mill Valley High School.
The three teams went into a head-to-head battle, but Hansen said this time the questions just didn't fall in his team's favor. Despite the disappointment, the team has chosen to look at the bright side of just how much getting to state meant to everyone.
"I enjoyed the team bonding that occurred as we all spent time together," said Carpenter, a junior. "They all mean a lot to me."
After the state meet, the team went on Saturday, Feb. 16, to finish what was started Dec. 1, at the 2007-08 Quest academic competition at Washburn University in Topeka. The Quest team, which did not include Laurence but added Emilee Taylor, 16, had made it through about 100 other Kansas schools to get to the quarterfinals.
The final two matches of the Quest competition were being taped for television, which Taylor said added more stress than usual.
In the second Quest meeting, Taylor almost passed out from the bright stage lights and had to sit out for half of the match. They were slightly thrown but held their own heading in to their third and final meeting.
The team ended up losing in the quarterfinals to Olathe Northwest this past Saturday. Starting out they were 150 points behind, and then in the final round, called the "lightning round," Hansen burned up the answers to bring them within 30 points of their opponent.
While their overall placement will be announced at a later date, their determination left the team with a good feeling.
Taylor said team members proved they had good chemistry.
"I like seeing people I care about improve tremendously," she said. "Especially when you see someone like Clayton, who also plays sports, use his free time to improve academically as well."
But, Taylor said, she's going to miss Scott next year when she retires as scholar bowl team coach.
Scott said she wanted to give another teacher a chance to take over since she's been doing it for so long. She also said she wants the new coach to bring a little younger energy to the position and be more competitive than she was.
"I'll miss being the coach," she said. "I just love teenagers, and it was tons of fun. But I'll still be around, and I'm sure they'll put me to work at future tournaments."