By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Quincy Notre Dame's quiz bowl team won fourth place in the Class A state Scholastic Bowl finals Friday in Peoria.
"I'm on cloud nine," coach Susan Schmitz said as the team headed back to Quincy. "It's been a great day. It's great to come home with a trophy,"
This is the first state Scholastic Bowl trophy in QND's history and the first year the school's team has advanced beyond regional competition.
QND's team lost the first match of the day against Carterville 290-150. The team then topped Toledo Cumberland 240-200 and outlasted Carlinville 180-160.
Schmitz said the tournament's turning point came when Carlinville and QND were tied at 160 points each. The teams were asked to name Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"I knew that was the kind of question that Gibson Brinkley would know. He answered it right, and a member of the other team asked ‘can you spell that?' We all let out a sigh of relief because it meant we would get to go on to play in the third-place game," Schmitz said.
QND lost its final match 70-120 to Rockford Keith Country Day.
There were no poor losers among the QND players.
"These were harder questions. It makes it a different kind of competition" at the state tournament, said Steven Musholt, captain of the team.
"We put it all together at the right time in the regionals and then the state tournament."
The senior said "it means everything" to bring home a state trophy after spending four years honing skills on the team.
Sarah Meidl, a sophomore, was surprised to hear that she had the most answers for the day.
"That doesn't usually happen," Meidl said.
She credited Schmitz for coaching the team well and said teachers at the school helped out by coming up with questions the team used in practice sessions.
QND English teacher Patricia Lask was at the tournament and got a silent acknowledgement from the team after a correct answer about Lord Byron's poem "She Walks in Beauty."
"The seniors on the team just had this in class a short while earlier, and after they got the answer right, they all looked back at Mrs. Lask," Schmitz said.
Eric Eling, a senior finishing his third year on quiz bowl, said the team's balance was the key to its strong showing this year.
"Nobody tried to dominate everything," Eling said.
Nick Scholz agreed that having team members with different strengths was important.
"We have a very complete team. All of us knew different areas," Scholz said.
Gabe Hun and Brinkley are juniors, and they, along with Meidl and other quiz bowlers who did not make it to Peoria, will give the team some experienced players next year.
Schmitz said QND was the only one of eight teams in the Class A tournament and the eight teams in the Class AA tournament that had not been to the state competition multiple times.