The following recollections were written by Dan Smith of the national championship team from Lakewood, CA.
A View from the Top: Memories of 1993
The ‘92-‘93 season covering the Gospel of Luke did not end with any surprises. Throughout the year, three teams achieved the top slots in every major tournament: Lakewood, CA, Bartlesville, OK, and Braeswood, TX. Greg House (Lakewood) coached his team to first place all year, while Sue Wootton (Bartlesville) and Jerome Tang (Braeswood) achieved second and third place, respectively. No one was shocked, therefore, when the final standings at Nationals were Lakewood, Bartlesville, and Braeswood. National Finals concluded as expected.
It would be a mistake, however, to think that predictable outcomes were easy outcomes. These teams had beaten each other all year, and every quizzer knew that one little mistake against the others could cost the match. National Finals heightened the existing competition among these favorites because, for the first time, the questions required little guess work. Sean Davis, a former quizzer and coach, intentionally wrote straight-forward questions. But there was a catch. Although the questions were easy to complete, the answers required lengthy responses. A quizzer who could not quote well, or had not thoroughly completed concordance work, was unable to answer many 20’s and virtually all 30’s in 30 seconds. Lakewood, Bartlesville, and Braeswood, knew this. They had prepared all year, especially during the summer, to answer the possible questions that, hopefully, no one else had studied. The key, then, to the 1993 National Finals was preparation massive quoting, practice, and concordance study. Lisa Wootton from Bartlesville, the overall high scorer, remarked that her study was so intense, that she would think of verses and concordance answers after observing clocks. Either the digital numbers or clock hands would trigger answers in her mind. Her study was so rigorous and exhausting that she later told me, “I will not have my kids in Bible Quiz.” I think, of course, she may have changed her mind by now. But her comment demonstrates the serious dedication required to win in Minneapolis that year. It was quite nerve-wracking, then, to learn we had to play Bartlesville and Braeswood back-to-back. Jeremy Rodriguez, Sarah Shewey, and I, led by Greg House, had proven ourselves all year. But, like every great team experiences, mistakes go hand-in-hand with pressure. Nerves twitch; minds race; sweat pours. Unfortunately, we lost against Bartlesville, but, after recovering, beat Braeswood. Both matches were intense, dramatic, and deserve more commentary.
Lakewood vs. Bartlesville Lisa Wootton, Bryan Wootton, and Satish Sangapu, handed us our first loss that year. Even though the match was decided on question 20, we could have won earlier. Brilliant play by Lisa and dismal play by Yours Truly cost us the match. I still remember the question that, I believe, was the turning point in the game. It was a 30 pointer:
Several times in Luke, Jesus says “Verily I say unto you.” Give the references for the 8 verses in which he says “Verily I say unto thee.”
Lisa interrupted and finished the question. Her first reference was correct; her second incorrect. And she knew it. Unlike many quizzers, Lisa did not continue giving the references. Instead, she quit when she knew she was wrong. Although we never discussed this, I am certain she intentionally stopped. She did not want to give us any “free” answers, in case we hadn’t studied that possible question. Her thoughtful strategy paid off Sarah, Jeremy, and I did not know the answer, and I am kicking myself to this day for disagreeing with my coach, Greg House. He was certain Sean Davis would write that question, and he gave us a concordance to study it. However, I told him, “There are too many references for Sean Davis to ask. I don’t think he’ll ask this question.” If only I had listened to my coach…That question could have been a 45 point turnaround. Up until then, we were neck-in-neck with Bartlesville. After our blown opportunity, we continued the back-and-forth match. Eventually, I missed my third question, sending me to sit with Greg behind Jeremy and Sarah. Had Jeremy not compensated for my lack, we would have lost by a bigger margin. He quizzed out forward on question 19, and, the 10 point bonus meant that Bartlesville had to answer question 20 correct. It was Sarah versus the entire team. Again, I remember the question. It was a two part answer:
According to final verse of the section titled, “Peter Denies Jesus,” what did Peter do after he betrayed Jesus?
The question may have ended differently. Bryan Wootton interrupted and completed it. I remember sitting on pins and needles, hoping he would make a mistake. But, the future NASA engineer came through. He answered the question and received a 10 point bonus for quizzing out. Disappointed with myself as captain I resolved to perform better against our next challenge Braeswood.
Lakewood vs. Braeswood Perhaps I was not determined enough. Braeswood started the match on a tirade, beating Sarah, Jeremy, and me, to the buzzer. For the first half of the game, it appeared we were going to drop two games in a row something we hadn’t done all year. An old fashioned slaughtering was in the making, and we were the sheep being led to it! Jason Sorens, Dionne Jobe, and Thalia Shortridge, were quick, accurate, and unstoppable. But, like our game with Bartlesville, the match’s momentum changed on a 30 pointer. I still remember the question. This time, though, personal redemption came:
Give in the essence the section titled, “The Pharisee and the Publican.”
Contrary to what you may be thinking, my personal redemption did not come from great hitting and answering. Dionne Jobe beat everyone to the buzzer. She finished the question and started quoting Luke 18:9-14. I carefully followed along with her in my mind. Everything was perfect until verse 13. Instead of saying “publican,” Dionne repeated “Pharisee.” She attributed the publican’s prayer to the Pharisee. When she was called correct, I stood up and contested. The gist of the contest was that “Dionne never gave us the prayer of the publican.” Rather, she told us “that the Pharisee said everything.” So, she “gave incorrect information in the completion of her answer.” The judges accepted the contest; the question was reread to us, and we answered it. This 45 point turnaround was pivotal. We got loose as Braeswood got tight. Our hands became milliseconds faster and our answers flowed accurately. By the end of the match, Sarah, Jeremy, and I, avoided a second loss. In fact, by the end of the 1993 National Finals, Bartlesville proved to be our only defeat.
Even though these two matches stick out most in my mind, they were not our only “trouble spots.” Our first game with Farmington, for example, was close until question 15. In addition, for some odd reason, we had a tough time with Parkcrest, another match decided on the last question. And, both a strange and facetious memory, occurred in our last game against Oskaloosa. To this day, Greg and I cannot figure out what happened in that room. I was called wrong on three quotes, all of which both of us were certain I answered correctly. Greg always followed along in his Scripture portion. Although I, again, sat behind Jeremy and Sarah to finish the game, a quizzer on Oskaloosa has provided much laughter for the past 16 years. I can’t remember who it was. However, they lost because he could not quote the Lord’s Prayer.
I will always cherish the ‘92-‘93 season. It was rewarding to graduate high school after accomplishing a four-year goal. After seeing Jason Sorens from Braeswood a few months later, he commented that we “were on a mission that year.” I was happy that our team goal was fulfilled. It was great to give Greg House his first championship with the best record up until that point - 18 and 1. Our game against Hawaii was remarkable, also. Jeremy, Sarah, and I, quizzed out by question 18 6 6 6 and I am certain Hawaii thought we were Antichrists. It was humbling to be the first back-to-back one-on-one champion. And, competition aside, it was awesome to drive from Los Angeles to Minneapolis with Jeremy, Sarah, Greg, and Mel Aou, our assistant coach. If I could relive any portion of my life, the 1992-1993 season covering Luke would be my first choice.