Quiz Bowl Team Impresses at National Tournament

Swarthmore's Quizz Bowl team

The Swarthmore quiz bowl team (from left to right) - Nathaniel Stern '20, Carlos Almeida '20, Jacob Brady '20, Collin Spangler '20 and Rebecca Rosenthal '20.

Just a few months after reestablishing the College's Quiz Bowl team, a group of first-year students are already making a splash on the national collegiate circuit.

Competing against 17 other teams, Swarthmore’s Quiz Bowl team, consisting of five first-year students, managed to defeat a nationally-ranked team from the University of Maryland in a last-minute upset, tying for fourth place in Division II in the National Academic Quiz Tournament’s Mid-Atlantic Sectional in February.

The team is captained by Rebecca Rosenthal '20 of Ridgewood, N.J., with members Carlos Almeida '20 of Newark, N.J., Jacob Brady '20 of White Plains, N.Y., Nathaniel Stern '20 of Bronx, N.Y., and Collin Spangler '20 of Wheeling, W.V. 

With its performance in the tournament, the Swarthmore team qualified for the Intercollegiate National Championship Tournament.

Quiz Bowl is a style of academic competition similar to Jeopardy! but involving teams rather than individuals. Competitions use a variety of formats based around questions or descriptions that players and teams race to answer using a buzzer. At the collegiate level, Quiz Bowl tournaments take place all year and culminate in a national tournament.

Swarthmore had a Quiz Bowl team, which once included Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu ’08 and had some notable success in the late 1960s. But the group has not been active since 2009. Rosenthal re-founded the team this past fall and discovered widespread campus interest; the team of students that competed at sectionals is only a portion of regular members. 

Rosenthal explains that Almeida, Brady, Stern, and Spangler all approached her to express interest about competing in Sectionals, and the five of them began training together.

“It turns out that the five of us had interests and knowledge bases that really complemented each other so that we all were able to contribute to our performance in competition,” she says.

Rosenthal describes the sectional tournament as “stressful and satisfying.” The competition used a timer, which required additional strategy and allowed for moments of high pressure and excitement.  

“Our upset against Maryland," she explains, "was literally won at the last second as the clock went out!” Rosenthal herself also won recognition as the fourth-highest scoring individual in Division II. 

The team will close out its season with a tournament at Princeton on April 15. Rosenthal hopes to continue to grow the club, which practices on Sundays at 3 p.m. in Trotter 301.