End of an era for Louisiana quiz bowl

Members of the team with their awards from the Rosemont competition. Courtesy photo.

By Adam Thorp

This weekend marked the end of an era for quiz bowl at Louisiana High School: its last state run featuring Michael Powers, whose speed with a buzzer has back-stopped Louisiana teams since his freshman year.

On the heels of division II championships in 2017 and 2018, a rough draw in the preliminary round robin at the tournament kept Louisiana out of the final four in Columbia Friday.

They were paired against their rival for pole position last year: Thayer High School and Joplin’s College Heights Christian School. Thayer came in third in 2018; College Heights Christian came in second.

Louisiana dropped to Thayer in the first round 440-340 and College Heights Christian in the second 420-330. A commanding 450-210 win over Lone Jack was not enough to earn a semi-finals spot.

College Heights ultimately beat Thayer 450-340 to win the state title.

With an average of 11 toss-ups per game in the preliminaries, Powers earned the second spot on the Division 2 all-state team.


From Columbia the team left on a long road-trip to Rosemont, Ill., outside of Chicago, where they competed in the 2019 Small School National Championship Saturday.

Louisiana came in fourth in the Very Small Schools Division and was part of a 6-way tie for 11th in the Traditional Public Schools Division.

Louisiana steamrolled through its first six matches, registering its first loss against a team representing Glasgow High School 270-460 in round nine. The team had two byes. A close 350-390 loss in round 11 to Beachwood High School and two more wins meant Louisiana entered play-offs as the number 3 seed with an 8-2 record.

In the playoffs Louisiana lost a rematch against Beachwood and a match against a team from Ottawa Hills, Ohio, which eliminated it from Traditional Schools Division contention.

Powers individually earned the top spot in the Traditional Public Schools Division at the tournament by dint of the number of points he scored for every 20 toss-up questions: a little more than 120 points, almost twenty points ahead second place finisher. He led the all-star team for the division.

Michaels “powered” — answered early enough in the read-through of a question to earn extra points — 49 times during the tournament.

This is the second year in a row Powers came out on top in the division.

A team representing Glasgow High School in Kentucky won the Traditional Public Schools Division overall, and a team representing Middlesboro High School, also in Kentucky, won the Very Small School Division.

“There is so much to be said about this team, but the thing I am most proud of is that through all the highs and lows these kids have been classy competitors. They are gracious winners and congratulatory losers,” Jolly said. “They put the work in because they love the game and because, frankly, its cool to know stuff.”


The weekend’s accomplishments caps a strong season for Louisiana quiz bowl.

The team’s record for the season going into the weekend was 82-12. The team came in first in the Very Small School Division at the Missouri Fall Academic Tournament, the Very Small School Division the Washington University Fall Academic Tournament, the Washington High School Invitational Tournament and the Ladue Invitational State Tournament.

At Louisiana High School’s award ceremony last Wednesday, Jolly paused to reflect on the team’s accomplishments.

At the ceremony Brandy Farmer was recognized as the most improved player. The Bulldog Award, recognizing contributions to team spirit and a positive attitude, went to Marin Powers. For the fourth year in a row, Michael Powers was recognized as the team’s most valuable player.

“Michael has earned individual honors at almost all of the tournaments we’ve competed in. This season, he averaged 128 points per game. I did a bunch of stats today, and if my calculations are correct over his four years playing quiz bowl at Louisiana I have it that he has scored 42,310 points,” Jolly said at the ceremony. Jolly also thanked local individuals and businesses for their support of the team as it set off for state.

Michael Powers has been selected as a member of Missouri’s team A at the National All-Star Academic Tournament this summer. Powers has been accepted at Washington University, which has a competitive collegiate quiz bowl program.

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