Westmont High Scholastic Bowl team wins two national championships in one day

  • Westmont High School Scholastic Bowl teams include: from left, assistant coach Nathan Chamberlain, Omer Moshin, Akshar Goyal, Pranav Viswanath, Lily Sakalys, Mark Michalik, Michael Smith, Stephen Michalik, and head coach Tom DeMay, outside Westmont High School. Not pictured: Diana Zheng and assistant coach Margaret Scheidel.

    Westmont High School Scholastic Bowl teams include: from left, assistant coach Nathan Chamberlain, Omer Moshin, Akshar Goyal, Pranav Viswanath, Lily Sakalys, Mark Michalik, Michael Smith, Stephen Michalik, and head coach Tom DeMay, outside Westmont High School. Not pictured: Diana Zheng and assistant coach Margaret Scheidel. Courtesy of Peter Landreth

 
 
Updated 4/28/2021 4:00 PM

The Westmont High School Scholastic Bowl team defeated teams from all over the country in the national championship tournament over the weekend in the online tournament.

After going undefeated (15-0), Westmont is now a double national champion, winning both the Small School and the Very Small School National Championship. This also marks the first time a team from Illinois has won either, and the first team ever to win both in one year.

 

"Seeing the team progress and adapt to changes, especially with regards to the switch to online competition, was very inspiring and the journey to nationals has been incredible," says junior and team captain Pranav Viswanath. "Following the unfortunate cancellation of last year's state and national's tournament, the grind to improve and the strive for success has been instilled in us, and I've been very grateful and fortunate to have had a part in leading these efforts and representing Westmont as national champions!"

Scholastic Bowl is a team competition where players compete against other schools in Jeopardy!-like trivia based questions. During the reading of a question, players can buzz in whenever they think they know the answer, and if correct, earns the team 10 points. The team then gets to work together to answer three additional "bonus questions."

If a player buzzes in early enough during the reading of the question, a player earns a "power" for 15 points, but if incorrect, the player costs their team five points, called a "neg." Sometimes, that five points can be the difference between winning and losing.

"In our closest game, a player from fellow Illinois powerhouse Herscher (finished 5th) negged on a fine arts tossup," junior Akshar Goyal recollects. "Normally, we would have waited to buzz until the very end of the tossup for an easier 10 points, but because the game was so close, I buzzed immediately after the neg and powered for the extra five, which later served as our margin of victory." Individually, Goyal finished the weekend ranked third in the country.

Senior Stephen Michalik relishes the teamwork component. "Our team is a very well run machine and works really well together. Everyone knows their strengths and weaknesses and we all work together to compensate for that. Everyone contributes, which is what makes us so successful."

Coaches Tom DeMay, Nathan Chamberlain and Margaret Scheidel would like to thank all of the teachers in Westmont Community Unit District 201 for their contributions to the team's success!