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The 2014-2015 H-F High School Scholastic Bowl team. 
(Photo provided)

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School Scholastic Bowl team, undefeated in conference competition, will face its biggest challenge starting Friday when they compete for the state championship.

For those who love the program “Jeopardy!” you have the idea of what Scholastic Bowl is like for the H-F students. Getting to the buzzer before your opponent is the objective, although the rapid-fire questions on topics in math, science, social studies, English literature/mythology, arts and music and miscellaneous topics are much more difficult than those posed to TV contestants. Some even require math calculations, in which students are given 45- or 60-seconds to use pencil and paper to get to the correct answer.

Teacher Michael Sacks, who has been coaching Scholastic Bowl the past 12 years, said this team has the most wins of any team at H-F that he can remember. The team is ranked among the top 15 in the state.

In the state championship, hosted by the Illinois High School Association, students will be asked 24 toss-up questions, and if a team gets a toss-up question right, it gets first opportunity at bonus questions.

H-F finished regular season play 15-0, and won all four matches at the Conference Championship to win the Southwest Suburban Conference (SWSC) title in February. H-F had the first undefeated season in SWSC history, according to Sacks.

“To be good at Scholastic Bowl you don’t have to be smart, but you do have to have a great memory. You do have to be able to draw connections of what you’re hearing out loud to what you remember,” Sacks explains. “It’s a very diverse skill set of how you’re using your brain.”

H-F all-conference players Michael Gislason, Lily Hamer and team captain Jacob Fontana led the team. They were joined by Wesley Thrall, Peter Cipriano, Caitlin Lamb and Malina Wordlaw. Over the season, Lauren Torian and Caleb D’Amico also served on the team. At any one time, a Scholastic Bowl team is five members in competition, so having additional players allows Sacks to rotate players as needed.

Winning the SWSC conference title took teamwork, Sacks said. “Michael did his outstanding job, but Lily got a buzzer beater, and Jacob answered a science question for us to win. It was just awesome to have us win through a team effort.”

H-F went on to win the IHSA Regionals and Sectionals to move up to state competition.

Sacks said the team practices once a week using questions that he has created, or that have been used in past competitions. This year he has worked on strategies to get the buzzer speed up. He is building on the program with a frosh/soph team of Michael Bonthron, Nathaniel Bouchie, Harri Wojcikowski and Ethan Bosch.

Sacks is looking forward to the state championship, but he has several players who are in other activities so he won’t have a full roster as he would have liked.

“These kids are so involved at H-F that now they are forced to choose. I have one player who is in state debate competition and I lose another to a group interpretation competition this weekend,” Sacks said.

Contact Marilyn Thomas at [email protected]



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