Hillcrest's knowledge bowl teams have been dominant this year. First place medals usually don the necks of the top team, while Hillcrest's other three teams elbow their way on to the podium as the season winds down to the regional competition. Wednesday saw Hillcrest's top team leave the field of schools they normally compete against, hunting for more competition. The results saw the Comets board the bus with a larger medal and a greater sense of how they can improve in the coming weeks.
Hillcrest sat down next to large schools to begin the meet. Moorhead, Fargo, and Alexandria all have very tough knowledge bowl teams. With many students eyeing Ivy League colleges, the knowledge bowl written test felt like an appetizer to the entrance exams they've faced the past few months. For the Comets, the written round was a gut check. Where they would traditionally be in the top three to enter the oral round of competition, the Comets started in fifth place, looking ahead at a field of competitors that brought some serious intellect to the table.
In the first round the Comets jumped out to a lead. Quick reflexes coupled with questions that seemed familiar for their team as the Comets continuously high-fived each other, watching points tally behind their name. In their lightning answers the Comets moved from the second tier room of oral competition, housing places four to six, into the top room with the first three places sitting around the table. The Comets scored 16 points in the opening oral round and moved into second place as they shuffled new chairs, checked-in with a new scorer, and settled into a place where they would remain for the rest of the day.
The Comets were neck-and-neck in answering questions against Moorhead's top team. After falling to Moorhead by three points in the second round, Hillcrest bounced back in round three to move within 11 points, after Moorhead stood 7 points ahead following the written round, 10 points ahead following the first oral round, and 13 points ahead following the second oral round.
Going into the final round, Hillcrest knew they needed to outpace Moorhead. The first barrage of questions left the Comets shaking their head. Where they held a sizable advantage over third place Fargo North, they now saw Fargo scraping for extra points in their hunt for second place. With Moorhead out of reach for Fargo, the Comets were in an embittered fight for hard-to-come-by points. They closed out the final round with 7 points, their lowest score on the day, outpaced by two hungry schools that boast enrollment at least five times larger than the Comets.
With Hillcrest's top team carrying home the second place in the large school division, the Comets' other three teams were battling in the small schools' division. Top teams jockeyed for first with Hillcrest's best out of the competition. Barnesville, Hawley, and Breckenridge stood on the small schools' winners podium. Hillcrest's other teams, with Reggie Undseth, Sam Isaac, Sean McGuire, and Jack Nordick, took 7th place. The Junior team, with Zakary Zwiers, Eric Konynenebelt, Daniel Isaac, Sam Ihrke, and Shantanu Malick took 9th. Hillcrests' second and third teams placed in the top 10 in the 39 school competition for the small school division. Hillcrest brought a fourth team to the competition, Lane Loewen, Peter Steinbach, Juliana Undseth, Anthony Mosher, and Jim Song, who placed 28th.
The Comets are looking forward to the regional competition, placing second place out of 42 schools in the large school division. Their work over the next week will hone their top three teams, who they are hoping will all move along to the Section round, which sends on two teams to the state competition.