Chairs shuffled in the hall outside Life Church's sanctuary. Hans Holzner, Thomas Martinson, Reggie Undseth, Sam Isaac and Ellen Jacobs, Hillcrest's Sophomore Knowledge Bowl team, pulled their chairs in at their table for the written test and gazed towards the first place trophy. Scoring 45 points in the test, and outscoring opponents in the oral rounds, put Hillcrest in the lead of the six school regional Knowledge Bowl meet, earning Hillcrest a state berth in the process.
Hillcrest earned three of the six spots at the regional competition. Presenting their academic prowess, Hillcrest's Sophomore and Freshman team are showing their school to be a force in academic competition.
The written test at the regional meet placed Hillcrest's teams in second, third, and sixth place. As the squads sat down for the competitive oral rounds they knew they had ground to make up. The top two teams at the regional meet move-on to State competition. Hillcrest's goal was to grasp the two tickets available for State.
Gathering in separate rooms throughout the church, Hillcrest's teams went to work competing against Wheaton, Park Christian, and Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. With three teams representing their school, Hillcrest's students felt comfortable with the competition and were primed to shine in the oral rounds.
Rapid-fire questions caused students to whisper, buzzing in with their team's button to solve complex math problems and provide answers to history and geography questions at an alarming rate. The Sophomore team pulled into first place with a two point lead after the first oral round. Hillcrest's Freshman and Senior squads followed, sixteen and five points off the pace respectively.
Over the following rounds the Sophomore team jolted the competition. A decisive third round provided a five point lead for the Comets, who closed the day with ninety-six points. The Senior team, Luke Jennen, Jonathan Eckhardt, Lucas Holzner, Matthew Lein, and Daniel Preston, placed third. Zak Zwiers, Eric Konynenbelt, Sam Ihrke, Danny Isaac, and Shantanu Mallick placed sixth, gathering valuable experience as the only all-freshman team at the regional competition.
The state competition is held at Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, MN on April 9 and 10. With the competition overlapping Hillcrest's choir tour, and most of the first place Sophomore team attending the Choir tour, they are forced to sit-out of the state competition. Because Hillcrest's Senior team placed third, they will take the vacated spot of the first place Sophomore team, as two teams from regional competition move to the State rounds. Four of the five Freshman knowledge-bowlers will also be on the Choir tour in April. Hillcrest's academic, athletic, and fine arts programs provide their small school a wide breadth of opportunities and experiences. The Knowledge Bowl program is no exception, as evidenced by the team's successes and accolades from their competition this year.