‘Murica faces Flint Tropics in geography bowl


Photo by Tess Riecke

Geography bowl teams of two went head-to-head, answering trivia questions. Left side was team Kenya Not, Grant Harding and Alan Lopez. Moderating in the middle was Dr. Randy Bertolas, and the right side was team The Flint Tropics, Jacob Hord and Kyle Kremer.

Steele Giles, Staff Writer

    By any chance, would you happen to know which state’s name can be typed using only one row of keys on the QWERTY keyboard?

If you’d been in the Frey conference suite on Thursday to watch eight teams go head to head for bragging rights and fabulous prizes in WSC’s fifth annual geography bowl, you might.

The event was moderated by the inestimable Dr. Randy Bertolas, whose lively color commentary and moderation kept the hour and a half long event from turning into a depressing slog through geographical minutiae.

He was backed up by an equally prestigious panel of judges consisting of Dr. Joseph Weixelman, Dr. Susan Ellis and Dr. Eric Colvard. Their role was to deliberate on ambiguous answers and rules violations, but occurrences of both were so minimal that the job basically gave them front-row seats to the event in exchange for being asked maybe three questions all night.

Eight teams played a quick tournament bracket – four semifinal matches, two finals and one championship.

Highlights included Prestige World Wide successfully stealing two different lightning round questions having to do with Prince William and Michael Jordan by blindly guessing the same answer: geography. Turns out the two celebrities graduated from their respective colleges with degrees on the subject.

Bonus round: can you name the number of states whose names start and end with a vowel?

At the end of the semifinals round, Dr. Bertolas called out raffle winners with the speed and impatience of an auctioneer. One of his conditions for winning is that if he calls your number, you have to be up and exuberant about it, lest you forfeit your prize for the next hapless fool in the hat to claim.

The first finals match was a showdown between ‘Murica and Prestige World Wide, a fairly unbalanced round that favored the former from the get-go.

The audience got a good laugh when the lightning round theme was called: Royals vs. Mets. Upon jumping all over the Royals category, PWW found itself bombarded with questions regarding royalty around the world, instead of trivia concerning everyone’s favorite Kansas City baseball team. ‘Murica was similarly surprised to receive questions about major cities (AKA a metropolis, get it?).

Can you name the California city that served as the western terminus of both the Pony Express and the transcontinental railroad? ‘Murica could.

Round six, the second finals match, pitted The Flint Tropics against Team 2, a match which any betting man would have put in favor of Team 2 if the scores before the bonus round were anything to go by.

A betting man would have lost. The Flint Tropics pulled off an insane double-or-nothing gamble to win the round.

The championship round saw The Flint Tropics go up against ‘Murica in what the crowd no doubt expected to be a duel for the ages. Instead they got a disappointing matchup that resulted in the only use of the mercy rule for the night.

Another ripple of laughter greeted the lightning round topic: Nebraska vs. Iowa. The Tropics seized their chance at a recovery and picked Nebraska, only to find a bombardment of obscure state trivia like our state fossil, drink and flower. It was a strangely depressing and bleakly hilarious few minutes that ended with ‘Murica securing the win with a great knowledge of Iowa trivia.

The teams: Prestige World Wide (Brandon Houdek and Devon Beck), Winter is Coming (Justin Aaberg and Seth Peirce), ‘Murica (Nathan Richling and Brian Carlson), The Iowegians (James Branstetter and Ryan Coenen), Eurasian Invasion (Carla Robinson and Paige Ernst), Team 2 (Derek Lahm and Cody Gieseking), Kenya Not (Grant Harding and Alan Lopez) and The Flint Tropics (Jacob Hord and Kyle Kremer).

Still stumped? Alaska. 8. Sacramento.