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MAHS Knowledge Bowl team heads to state tournament

Seniors Dylan Curfman, Grahem Andersen, junior Yasha Hoffman and senior Mickey Cotter, pictured with coach Brittany Greenwalt, will compete at the state Knowledge Bowl tournament next week in Brainerd. (Kim Ukura/Sun Tribune)

MORRIS – Seniors Mickey Cotter, Grahem Andersen and Dylan Curfman and junior Yasha Hoffman will represent Morris Area High School at the state Knowledge Bowl competition on April 11 and 12 at Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, Minn.

Knowledge Bowl is an academic competition where teams of between four and six students compete to answer questions on a variety of topics in a written round and several oral rounds.

To advance to state, the team had to place in both a sub-region and region meet, placing second at both. The top two teams from the region meet advance to state.

The team jokes about reading dictionaries and encyclopedias to prepare for each tournament, but also credits the accumulated knowledge they've gained at MAHS for their success.

Each team member also has a few areas of strength – Cotter answers English and math questions; Curfman specializes in the law and current events; Hoffman knows about geography and language; and Andersen answers questions about ornithology (yes, birds) and “a healthy variety of other things.”

Each Knowledge Bowl meet starts with a 50 minute written exam where teams answer 60 multiple choice questions. The tests are used to rank each team and set the groupings for the first oral round. After each round, the teams are ranked again so participants have a good idea of where they stand throughout the competition.

Part of success in Knowledge Bowl is being fast to the buzzer. During the oral rounds, where 45 questions are read and answered out loud, teams need to quick reactions to have a chance to answer.

“It's not only knowing [the answer],” said Curfman. “You have to anticipate and get in before everyone else does to answer the question.”

This will be the first visit to state for Cotter, Curfman and Hoffman, but a returning trip for Andersen who attended a prior meet while a student in a different district. The team is optimistic about their chances at state and hope to bring home a trophy.