Chenery Eighth Graders Champs Of National Middle School Quiz Bowl Tourney

Photo: The National Champions of Middle School Quiz Bowl: (from left) Gregory Zeldovich, Jeffrey Wu, Fergus Williams and Andrew Gao

When Andrew Gao answered what would be the deciding question in the 2023 Quiz Bowl Middle School National Championship Tournament, he knew he got it correct. And when they the announcer confirmed it, an excited Gao jumped out of his seat knocking over the chair in front of an auditorium filled with students, parents and Quiz Bowl officials.

[The answer was the 1976 Korean axe murder incident]

But that small faux pas didn’t dampen the realization the team from the Belmont’s W. L. Chenery Middle School had enough of a lead to hold off their Georgia competition and secured the national title to the team made up of four eighth graders – captains Gao and Gregory Zeldovich, along with Fergus Williams and Jeffrey Wu – who represented Belmont’s W. L. Chenery Middle School.

“It was like a mystical thing,” said Williams when the final score was announced. “Then it instinctively click: we won!”

Quiz bowl is a competitive, academic, interscholastic activity for teams of four students. Quiz Bowl teams use buzzers to answer questions about science, math, history, literature, mythology, geography, social science, current events, sports, and popular culture. The matches feature a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, since no individual player is likely to be an expert in all subject areas. Participation in quiz bowl both reinforces lessons from the classroom and encourages players to develop new intellectual interests.

“It’s like Jeopardy but with longer questions and there are bonuses for getting the question early,” said Gao.

See how you would do answering these Middle School Quiz Bowl questions.

The Chenery joined 159 of the top middle schools Quiz Bowl teams from 31 states and South Korea at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago for the annual event held over the May 13 weekend.

Not that the Goa or the Chenery team are strangers to the competition as the school’s Quiz Bowl club was runners-up in the 2022 edition, losing to Longfellow Middle School of Falls Church, Virginia.

“That really helped knowing how to take on the pressure of each game,” said Zeldovich.

The young men are members of the school’s Quiz Bowl Club which includes students who are competitive and those who simply want to have fun with a wide array of subjects. The club qualified for the national tournament being one of the top 15 percent of teams in the country.

“I feel like we do pretty well in tournaments that we took part in last fall,” said Williams.

Coached by Beth Manca, Chenery began the preliminary rounds with a eight-game winning streak, finishing the preliminary rounds with a 8-0 record, qualifying them for the eight game playoff round.

There were some tense moments in the final round. Chenery defeated Sycamore A from Indianapolis, Indiana by the narrow margin of 440-415 during round 5 and then suffered a narrow loss to River Trail A from Johns Creek, Georgia, 345-340, during round 21. But by then, Chenery cumulative record was good enough to put them in the championship finals against Johns Creek.

In the ultimate match, Chenery had a small lead at the half 200-160. “It was back and forth, just like in the last game with them, It was Deja vu,” said Gao.

After a second half push by River Trail, Chenery managed to pull ahead for good with two minutes remaining, winning 380-280.

Gao was honored as an All-Star for correctly answering 60 tossup questions, 46 of them for “power questions.” Goa said he’s good at quires about literature, geography and history. “But not math,” he said with a shrug. “So it’s OK that there are not that many math questions.”

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  1. Peg Callanan says

    Congratulations Team Chenery!!! Great news!

    I missed BHS participation in the WGBH High School Quiz Show. this year.. Hoping you will participate in future years.

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