ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan's College Bowl team will try for yet another national championship this weekend, as members travel to the Academic Competition Federation's tournament. U-M student members of the "A" team competing in the event are Steve Knowlton, Alma; Benoy Chacko, Mount Clemens; Ravin Garg, Shelby Township, and Rory Molinari, Canberra, Australia.
The U-M team is ranked among the nation's best academic games teams. Last spring, they took national championships in two tournaments. In fact, their performance in the 64-team Penn Bowl at Pennsylvania State University this past spring, sent them off to London to compete for an international championship.
Earlier this year, five team members, Chacko and Garg, with teammates David Frazee, Michelle Lalonde, and Kevin Olmstead, traveled to London to take on the British academic games champion, Imperial College. The U-M team soundly defeated Imperial, and earned the international champions title. The competition aired on British television, and afterwards, the British media offered high praise for the U-M team.
"We were kind of surprised about the reception we got," said Chacko, who serves as team captain. "Everyone complimented the way we conducted ourselves and the way we were dressed."
"To me, it was just such an honor to be there," said Garg, one of the team's co-managers. "It was exciting to be in an international competition, and plus, it was a great vacation right after final exams."
A College Bowl match pits two four-person teams against each other. A moderator asks questions, teams may confer about their answer. Molinari, the team's other co-manager, likens a typical College Bowl match to a popular game show. "Basically, it's like 'Jeopardy!' with teams," he said. "First you start with a toss- up question, and whichever team buzzes in first gets to answer the question."
That training in quick thinking has paid off for some team members. Chacko has appeared on the actual "Jeopardy!" before, and Craig Barker, a team member from Livonia, will appear on the show in mid-May.
Still, for all its success, the team doesn't take itself too seriously. "We're basically a pretty laid back program, compared to a lot of other schools," Chacko said. "We only practice once a week, and we don't require our team members to be studying trivia all the time."
"Plus, we don't specialize," Garg said. "We all have varied academic backgrounds, and we'll try to answer all kinds of question. We're comfortable with anything from physics to pop culture."
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