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The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

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Scholastic Bowl team wins first round of local trivia show

The+Battle+of+the+Brains+team%2C+composed+of+scholastic+bowl+members%2C+is+all+smiles+at+the+competition+in+Richmond%2C+Va.%2C+on+Oct.+5%2C+2023.+From+left+to+right%3A+Austin+Mao%2C+Kaushik+Tatta%2C+Jackson+Crickard%2C+Meilin+Ranjan%2C+Samuel+Kidd+and+Clark+Smith.+Photo+used+with+permission+from+Miranda+Blaser.
The Battle of the Brains team, composed of scholastic bowl members, is all smiles at the competition in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 5, 2023. From left to right: Austin Mao, Kaushik Tatta, Jackson Crickard, Meilin Ranjan, Samuel Kidd and Clark Smith. Photo used with permission from Miranda Blaser.

Scholastic Bowl won the most recent episode of “Battle of the Brains,” a Richmond-based televised trivia show where high school teams in Virginia compete to become the ultimate trivia champion.

Math teacher and Scholastic Bowl coach Miranda Blaser reached out to the Princess Anne coach, Jason Tomik, and inquired about how his team got invited to the show.

Around the end of April, I received an email from the head of the show, Patrick Porter, inviting us to take the placement assessment. Three days after I submitted them, we found out we would be on this season.

— Miranda Blaser

Six members of the Scholastic Bowl team were chosen to represent Ocean Lakes based on their strengths, experience and overall performance in past Scholastic Bowl activities. Blaser, along with captains senior Meilin Ranjan and junior Jackson Crickard, watched a few past episodes to understand the format of the show.

Afterwards, they chose a team composed of members whose strengths and weaknesses would compliment each other. At the end of the selection process, the chosen six were seniors Meilin Ranjan, Sam Kidd and Austin Mao; juniors Jackson Crickard and Kaushik Tatta; and sophomore Clark Smith. With the team finalized, practice began.

“Coach Blaser conducts practices for the team every Tuesday, where we practice older packets to understand any underlying patterns,” said Kaushik. “We [also] use a website called Protobowl to hone our reaction time skills and expand our knowledge base.”

All of the current team members are in the Math and Science Academy. The team is exemplary in the sciences, and each person has a unique strength in addition to that, according to Blaser.

“Meilin is strong with literature, Jackson is strong with mythology and Sam is a wizard when it comes to geography,” said Blaser. “Austin’s strength is in history, Kaushik is strong in music and Clark is strong in sports.”

Of the six, four competed in the first episode: Austin, Sam, Kaushik and Meilin.

On Oct. 5, 2023, the team traveled to Richmond to film the first episode of “Battle of the Brains.” Their opponents were students from Hermitage High School, located in Henrico County.

The “Battle of the Brains” format consists of three toss-up rounds, where a question is read aloud and members from either team are allowed to buzz in with their answer. There is also a category round, where each team chooses a 10-question category and attempts to answer all the questions in the given amount of time.

At the end of the first toss-up round, the score was 110 (Ocean Lakes) to 30 (Hermitage). Ocean Lakes chose the category of “Explorers,” and Hermitage chose “Begins and ends with ‘T.’” After the category round, the score was 140 (Ocean Lakes) and 65 (Hermitage). By the end of the last two toss-up rounds, Ocean Lakes had scored a total of 400 points to Hermitage’s 145 points, winning the first round of “Battle of the Brains.”

When asked about strategy, Meilin identified one key difference between Scholastic Bowl and Battle of the Brains that helped the team cruise to victory.

“‘Battle of the Brains’ questions are shorter and generally quite a bit easier than those asked in our traditional high school format,” said Meilin. “As such, speed takes almost complete precedence over depth of knowledge, and in many ways, that has made trivia more fun and less serious or mentally taxing.”

The result was kept under wraps until the official airing of the episode on Jan. 27, 2024. To watch the entire match, click here.

With this win, the Dolphins advanced to the second round of the competition on Jan. 17, 2024. The episode will air on March 9, 2024, at 10 a.m. 

“[Scholastic bowl] is rewarding and an almost natural supplement to the difficult learning we do in school,” said Meilin.

Kaushik agrees, emphasizing the unique camaraderie and the intense emotions.

“The competitive environment and team spirit is what motivates me,” said Kaushik. “The adrenaline and anxiety you get from a close match always brings me back to this amazing sport.”

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