FEATURE: Scholars Bowl Soars to State

The Scholars Bowl team traveled to state at Washburn Rural where they took fourth place


Contributed by Oather Strawderman

The Scholar’s Bowl team shows off their fourth place medals at the state competition on Feb. 11. As coach of the team, Oather Strawderman enjoyed seeing the students be successful and take pride in their accomplishments. “They should be really proud of themselves because the 6A Scholar’s Bowl is a really tough, competitive environment,” Strawderman said. “They did really well.”

Evie Chancy

After months of practice, the Firebird Scholars Bowl team traveled to Washburn Rural High School where they placed fourth in the Kansas State High School Activities Association [KSHSAA] state championship. Their success followed a second place victory at the regional Scholars Bowl competition.

Six out of the 18 active members of the Scholars Bowl were selected to train for the state and regional team by Scholars Bowl coach, Oather Strawderman. The team members included: junior Connor Brown, senior May Gao, senior Ryan Laird, senior Lauren Tao, senior Steven Tao and junior Yejun Yun.

Laird, president of the club, said their weekly practices built their knowledge base across a variety of academic subjects.

“The practices gave us the mindset of being able to answer fast and without hesitation,” Yun said.

The team considers this season of Scholars Bowl a success. Strawderman says his goal for the team was to qualify for state. The team’s fourth-place ranking at the state championship exceeded his expectations.

“It’s always exciting to see my Free State students do so well,” Strawderman said. “It’s exciting to see everybody perform at their best or beat another team by just one question.”

Laird attributes the team’s success to trust in each other and their collective knowledge. Without time to talk to each other during events, it was critical that the team work intuitively to perform with accuracy and speed. 

“The key part of our win was to build a team that had a very wide range of what they know as a team, even if that range isn’t as big for any individual person.” Laird said.

The team described the atmosphere of regionals and state as intense. Brown said that they were at a new level compared to the rest of the season. According to him, all their rounds were closely matched and the determining rounds came down to the last few questions.

“We had done pretty well the whole season, but going against the best teams at regionals from everywhere and knowing that we did as well as anyone else is what’s really cool,” Brown said.