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The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Scholastic Bowl rings in new season

James McCormac
Scholastic Bowl starters Naath Kulatunga and Leonard Siegal

“It’s kind of like Jeopardy,” said Mr. Daniel Burke, who is well-known for teaching theology, coaching cross country, and being the AP exam administrator, as well as a former winner on the game show Jeopardy himself. But many students do not know that he’s been coaching Scholastic Bowl at Mount Carmel for 16 years.

Scholastic Bowl is a team trivia competition where teams from two schools square off, with five people from each team attempting to answer a series of questions on science, math, history, geography, literature, music, and even pop culture. People answer a toss-up question using buzzers, and if someone gets it right, that team gets three bonus questions to answer. Any bonus question not answered correctly can be “stolen” by the other team for points. Matches tend to be around twenty four toss-up questions long.

While Scholastic Bowl has remained constant with its membership counts over the years according to Mr. Burke, this year they have had an especially hard time getting freshman and sophomore students to join the team and would encourage any interested underclassmen to please come out for the team. Currently there are eight team members: seniors Naath Kulatunga, Nathan Alfultis, and Jack Breakey; juniors Leonard Siegal and Jude Al-Hallaj; sophomores Kenny Groen and RJ Risos; and freshman Nolan Esquivel. The varsity starting line up currently features Kulatunga, Alfultis, Siegal, Breakey, and Groen.

They play in a ten-team league of South Side Catholic schools with each team playing each other twice over the course of a season of weekly matches before state playoffs in February. The Caravan are looking forward to a great season after getting in some practice time with senior leaders showing others the ropes. “It’s my first year doing this,” said Siegal. “It’s nice to have guys who know what they’re doing to help me in practice and matches.”

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After competing for over a decade and a half, Mr. Burke finds that he really likes being around a team of like minded people who just enjoy knowing seemingly random facts and answers to strange questions. “I’m a big nerd,” said Mr. Burke. “So hanging out with other nerds who love trivia is really the draw for me.”

While they have started off a little rough this year in their first competition, losing all three of their matches, the team is feeling confident in improving throughout the season. “We’ve got some work to do,” said Mr. Burke.

There have been some pretty good MC Scholastic Bowl teams in years past, so Coach Burke is familiar with winning. “We’ve had some ups and downs over the years,” said Mr. Burke. “There’s been some teams that have made it to the top two or three in our league.”

Although Scholastic Bowl is an IHSA sport, the Caravan have yet to approach a state championship, usually coming up short a few rounds into the playoffs. It is a very challenging sport, mostly due to the wide array of topics that it covers and how quick players have to buzz in to get the answer both first and correct. “It’s really difficult because of how much it makes me think,” said Leonard Siegal. “Even with five people it’s so difficult to properly know all the topics.”

The seniors have stepped up this year with Kulatunga as captain in his third year. “Experience really helps in the competitions,” he said. “I’m hoping we can place well in the conference but I don’t know about the playoffs.”

No matter the result of the season, Scholastic Bowl is giving its all this year. “We’re going to try our best to make MC proud,” said Siegal.

While there are no college scholarships for Scholastic Bowl, there are similar kinds of high school competitions across the country all with different names. Quiz bowl is also played on the college level.

The Scholastic Bowl team is looking forward to putting up a good record this season and seeing how far they can go. By putting in some good practice now hopefully this team can add a Scholastic Bowl championship banner to the gym.

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About the Contributor
James McCormac
James McCormac, Staff Writer
James McCormac is a junior at Mount Carmel. He lives in Bridgeport and attended Old Saint Mary's Grammar School. James is a member of the Varsity football team, the chess team, boxing, and The Merchant. Outside of school James enjoys doing volunteer work. His hobbies are reading and lifting.