TOLEDO — For the past eight months, Cumberland High School Scholastic Bowl team has met five times a week, rigorously drilling over esoteric trivia and honing their skills for competition.
They will find out if the hard work paid off Friday as five members of the team take the more than eight-hour drive to Atlanta to compete in the National Tournament. The tournament is scheduled for both Friday and Saturday.
"We're all really excited to go," said Charles Ault, a junior and team member.
By all accounts, the team has earned the right to be excited. With a post state tournament record of 60-18, winning the Little Illini Conference Championship, taking third in the State Masonic Championship and fifth in the IHSA state tournament, coach and math teacher Brendan Aydt said the team has gotten this far on the strength of continuous research and practice — five days a week since the beginning of the school year.
"They've put in a lot of time," he said. "We'll answer questions in practice and if there's something they don't know, they'll jot down some stuff, but a lot of it is outside of practice. They've put in a lot of time researching as well."
With the 256-team national tournament approaching, Aydt said he wanted to get the team used to the more difficult and taxing questions before arriving in Georgia.
"We've been reading some questions from past versions of this tournament from past years, and it's definitely a tougher category of question," he said. "We're looking to sort out some of the top questions and reading some of those to get the kids used to this."
Aydt credits the students' initiative and enjoyment of playing for the team's success.
"Over the last couple years, we've had some great student leadership," he said. "We've had several players that enjoy playing and want to study and learn more and compete more. We've added several tournaments to the schedule so that we would play a tournament almost every weekend from January to March."
With many of the tournaments lasting all day and with bus rides lasting past the two-hour mark, Ault said he has enjoyed just being with the rest of the team.
"It was really great being out with these guys," he said. "There were a lot of tournaments and a lot of bus rides."
Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or firstname.lastname@example.org.