Can you name the chemical formula of carbonic acid? Or maybe give the measure of the angle, in radians, at which the sine of the angle is negative root three over two and the cosine is one half? Can you name the author of the novel that contains the character Heathcliff or give the century in which Giotto painted the Scrovegni Chapel? Oh, and can you give your answer within five seconds of the question being asked and do so before the other nine people attempting to answer the same question do?
These are a sampling of the questions asked of Fallbrook High School’s Junior Varsity Academic Team on a daily basis during its competitive season. These students practice for months to compete in matches against other schools in a battle of knowledge, and Fallbrook’s team this year was quite a strong team, indeed. It was a season of firsts for the Fallbrook High Academic Team; this was their first year in which a tie-breaking overtime had to be called and this was the first year in which the team advanced all the way to the North County Tournament Championship final game.
From January to April, Fallbrook’s Academic Teams competed in the Valley League; the Junior Varsity team ended the season at first place in the league with a 5-1 record. It was during league play that the JV team encountered Fallbrook’s first ever tie. A tie in Academic Team competitions is extremely rare as points are added to the score anywhere between one and five at a time, points can be subtracted, and the match has a half-hour time limit.
When Fallbrook tied in a match with Escondido High School, the teams then advanced to a tie-breaker round, in which the first team to answer the next question correctly before the other team won the match. Fallbrook achieved victory at this match, which helped to solidify their first place standings. As the top team in their league, Fallbrook’s JV Academic Team then advanced to tournament play.
The North County Tournament was held on April 20 at Canyon Crest Academy. After an additional month of practice, the team of sophomores and juniors traveled down to Canyon Crest to compete against teams outside of their league for the North County title. Before competitions commenced, each first place team from the four leagues was honored with medals and plaques for its already outstanding achievement.
After the awards ceremony, the academic competitions began. Fallbrook’s first opponent was Rancho Buena Vista High School – a school with a similar record and size as Fallbrook. The match was extremely close for the entire half hour, but Fallbrook clinched a victory with a score of 49-45. This win assured Fallbrook a place in the finals later that evening.
Fallbrook’s opponent in the finals was the much larger team from San Dieguito Academy. This team was also undefeated in its league, so Fallbrook knew it was facing a formidable opponent. Fallbrook started the match off strong with a lead of about 10 points, but San Dieguito soon pulled ahead and maintained a strong lead for the remainder of the match.
Fallbrook’s JV academic team lost to San Dieguito, which means the team placed second overall. Though somewhat disappointed with the loss, the Fallbrook team was proud of how far they’d come this year. In the trophy presentation after the final match, it was noted that Fallbrook placed second out of 28 public and private schools in the entire North County League, one of the most competitive leagues in Southern California.
The members of the academic team each demonstrated outstanding intellectual abilities in the competitions that wow audience members and teammates alike.
As one audience member commented, “The matches are like Jeopardy on steroids and I’m glad it’s not me up there!”
While the questions can be difficult, and the bonus questions can be a scramble when the team is trying to collaborate on a multi-part question in 20 seconds, the team enjoys the challenge and testing just how much they truly know.
“In Academic Team matches, you don’t know what you know until you have to know it,” the JV team’s captain jokingly remarked.
All of Fallbrook High School’s Academic Teams have been practicing intently to ensure they are prepared to demonstrate their knowledge during the season, and though the season is officially over for Fallbrook, the members of this season’s JV team look forward to next year, where they hope to make it to the North County Tournament once again.