Great teamwork, preparation and focus – that’s what it took for Portsmouth Christian Academy’s high school academic competition team to claim this year’s State Championship for the New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League.
At the League championships, held at the Legislative Office Building in Concord on April 7, the PCA Eagles defeated all seven top-ranked teams competing for the coveted banner. The Eagles are Niko Townsend, senior and captain, Dover; Byrnese Knapp, senior, Somersworth; John Sipp, junior, Somersworth; and Jonah Abraham, junior, Waterboro, ME.
They are the senior competition team of PCA’s 25-member Quiz Club, coached by Donna Capern and Dr. Raymond Gamble. “We all seemed to be at the top of our game and were able to stay focused and determined,” says captain Niko Townsend, acknowledging that the team faced tough matches against excellent teams on their way to the win. They all agree that team synergy was a major factor in the win. “I will always remember quiz bowl for the extraordinary camaraderie it instilled in us,” says senior Byrnese Knapp. Junior Jonah Abraham agrees. “The sense of togetherness is what I enjoy most,” he says, and he considers it a major factor in their success. Junior John Sipp points out that the team’s practice and preparation also contributed to the win. “But behind all that work and practice stood our shared enjoyment of learning, and of being able to both satisfy and demonstrate this passion in competition,” he says.
New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League tournaments challenge teams of high school students from public and private schools all over the state in a series of fast-paced, Jeopardy-style battles of wits. Students depend on fast recall and buzzer responses to accurately answer several hundred questions from every area of knowledge. “I’m proud to have worked with so many talented, motivated students who love to learn, love to work toward a goal and love to have fun doing it,” says coach Donna Capern. “We’ve set our sights on the state championship since we first joined the League seven years ago, and it took all of our past and present teams to build toward this achievement. We’re a small school competing against much larger schools, but our students have the heart and the ability to compete successfully,” she says.
“I was tremendously impressed by the dedication of this group, which started practicing together weekly in September,” says coach Dr. Raymond Gamble. “They got off to a good start by winning the Seacoast Regional Tournament last fall, reached a very impressive level of performance at the MIT competition in March, and then surpassed their previous best at the state finals. That performance involved valuable contributions from all four members of the team. What stood out perhaps the most was the extraordinary amount of anticipation, successfully projecting the connections that a question would make to be able to answer correctly before the question was finished.”
PCA’s win at the New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League Regional Championship earlier this year qualified the team to take on other regional winners and top teams at the State Championship. This year, the team also competed on New Hampshire Public Television’s Granite State Challenge, in the Knowledge Master Online competition, and at the MIT Beaver Academic Tournament, where they recently qualified to compete at the PACE National Scholastic Championships in June.