New club buzzes into nationals


Laura Gillespie

Melvin Le, Dennis Le and Josh Swanson share a laugh during their victory celebration after finding out they are a nationally ranked team. Dennis Le is the only concurrent high school student on the team and chose to join because his schedule wouldn’t allow him to participate in the high school team.

Nationals await this year’s new Quiz Bowl team. Seward County Community College began the club during the fall semester with the hopes of just having enough students to field a team. Now, the team will compete nationally against 16 other teams on Feb. 26. 

The team is currently ranked No. 13 in the nation. Going from no team to a national ranking blows the mind of Elizabeth Horinek, a biology major from Sublette, who helped start the club. She competed in high school on a Quiz Bowl team and wanted to do the same in college. She saw that there were not many competition-based activities for students that are not athletes and worked with SCCC to implement it. She convinced her mother and SCCC employee, Charity Horinek, into coaching the team and set out to recruit enough students to fill it.

Quiz Bowl club celebrates their national ranking the first practice back after finding out the news. Club member, Melvin Le, a pharmacy major from Liberal, said he had been shocked to hear that the team was going to nationals. (Laura Gillespie )

The six-member team set high hopes of “not coming in last” in most competitions this season. It didn’t take them long to shatter these expectations. With only one 30-minute practice before the first meet, they competed in Garden City with only two members. Dennis Le came away ranked third among individual participants. With each competition, the team has grown and placed higher and higher … until their recent national ranking.

Due to COVID, some competitions this year are via zoom, including nationals. It is not how they prefer to compete, Horenik and other members share. 

“Personally, I like the experience of going and being at the meet. There is a psychological difference at least for me between the real buzzers and being in the same room as the other team. It just feels more competitive – it’s a little underwhelming over Zoom,” said Horinek. 

Dennis Le, a concurrent high school student from Liberal, shared similar sentiments to Horinek.

“Each round I am just so used to shaking the opponent’s hand and just talking to them a little bit afterward. That is just something I miss,” said Le. 

While Quiz Bowl is new at SCCC it is not new to most students on the team. They competed throughout their high school careers and see a major difference from competitions now versus then.

“During the toss-up questions in high school, you are allowed to talk to your teammates about the answer,” Horinek said. “In college, it has got to be silent and that was a big learning curve for me. I feel like there is a lot more teamwork in high school than there is in college.” 

Nicole Piper, an art education major from Hugoton, joined the Quiz Bowl club this semester. She agreed with Horinek about the differences between college and high school competitions but said there are even more. 

“Not only that but the rules are all completely different when it comes to answering questions that I have never heard of before – so trying to answer questions can be hard,” said Piper, who competed at Hugoton High School. 

The team’s next competition will be Nationals on Feb. 26, followed by a state of Kansas competition in April.