Scott Laurens only quizzed at nationals one year, but what makes this entry unique was that it was the first year national finals was held, 1963.
Quizzing has changed a lot since those days: question styles were very different, gloves were used in conjunction with buzzers and each team was even expected to make their own buzzer set! One thing today's quizzers will be surprised to learn is that for the first few years of quizzing, only five questions were required for a quiz-out. (This changed to six in the mid-70s and stayed that way until 2005).
Scott was captain of the first team to win national finals, from Bouldercrest A/G in Atlanta, GA. This church would change names several times over the next 50 years, and would send many teams to nationals, winning again in 1976 and 1978. Nationals that first year only consisted of three matches, played in tournament format, so it is difficult to name a top scorer, though Scott is usually credited with this honor. Scott was known as a strong team leader who could be relied on to quiz well under pressure, and he was a gracious and humble quizzing champion. Multiple other members of the Laurens family also quizzed at nationals including Scott's brother Rusty, who was also on that first national championship team, his brother Rhett, who will be featured in a future bio, and Scott's son Rob, who competed at national finals as both a quizzer and a coach, and who founded this website. You can read Scott's memories of 1963 national finals here.
Mark Gilmer quizzed from 1974 to 1981 for Evangel Temple in Decatur, GA. These were the days when only one team from each region competed at nationals. Mark's team competed at nationals in all of those years except 1974, 1977 and 1980.
In 1976 and 1978, Mark's team won national finals, making them the first church to win three national finals (they also won in 1963). While much of the individual data from those years is missing, we do know that Mark placed among the top 6 scorers in both 1979 and 1981.
Mark was one of the most consistent and reliable quizzers of his generation; in every year that he quizzed, he earned a starting position on the team at a church that was known at the time for having a very competitive quiz program. Mark was also renowned for his ability to get his team back into matches in which they were behind by methodically and reliably interrupting 10 and 20 point questions at crucial points. He may not have been the high scorer on his team, but it was often his quiz-out on the critical 10s and 20s that made the difference in his team's wins. He was also known for his incredible accuracy; Mark allegedly had the fewest errors among all of the top scoring quizzers at national finals in each of his 5 national finals appearances.
Following his quizzing years, Mark coached 12 teams at national finals from 1984 to 2010. Mark passed away on July 21, 2010 shortly after taking his team to nationals one last time. You can read what many wrote about him here and here.
John Wootton quizzed in 1983 and 1984 for Byesville, OH. The last two of those years, his team competed at national finals. In both years they faced off against First A/G, New Orleans, LA in playoffs, coming in second each time.
The format of nationals in 1984 included a Final Four, although it was a different version than what we currently have. Eight teams competed in two flights and the top two from each advanced to the Final Four, where a four-team round robin was played. John was top scorer at both of these national finals, becoming only the third person, and the first male quizzer, to achieve this feat. John's average score in 1983 was 113.57 points per game and is believed to be a record at that time. John's average would not be broken until 1994, by Lisa Wootton (no relation).
In his prime, John was known for being a quizzer who was very steady in big matches; he shouldered the responsibility for carrying his team and he was under constant pressure to perform well in every quiz. He was fast on the buzzer, knew the material inside and out, and despite being a top-notch quizzer was a very humble young man. John graduated from Evangel University in 1988 (writing official questions that year as well) and currently serves as A/G district superintendent of Ohio.
If the modern era of Bible Quiz began in 1986, Marcae was its first All-Star. In her three appearances, she finished 5th in scoring in 1986, 3rd in 1987, and 1st in 1988. Perhaps her most famous achievement was claiming both the high point quizzer and Individual Tournament titles in her senior year. This was all the more impressive considering that Marcae graduated from High School at 16 years of age.
Marcae was the catalyst for one of the most consistent programs in Bible Quiz. Central Assembly in Springfield, MO has sent more teams to Nationals than any other church in history. Beginning in 1986, Central sent eight consecutive teams to Nationals in an era where only two teams could qualify from each region. She led Central to three straight Gulf Regional titles, never finishing lower than 6th at Nationals, with a 2nd-place finish in her senior season.
After Marcae’s impressive performance at the ’88 Finals, it took almost a decade for another quizzer to duplicate her feat. To this day, she remains a legend in the Bible Quiz world. She went on to coach Central Assembly for several of those Nationals appearances, training and building up other great quizzers. When people think of the historically great program of Central, Marcae’s name is the first that comes to mind.
Today, Marcae Johnson Robertson and her husband, along with two daughters, are Assemblies of God World Missionaries. Her life has been dedicated to studying God’s Word and leading others to do the same.
Joshua Weber was part of the famous Lakeland, FL teams of the early 1990s. In 1990 and 1991, Lakeland won back-to-back National Championships over James & Romans and Acts. Joshua was a starter on both of those teams. In 1991, he was the runner-up in the Individual Tournament. In 1992, he was back at Nationals, winning the scoring title. These years were among the most competitive in Bible Quiz history, and some of the most legendary quizzers competed in that era. Joshua proved his mettle by pulling off an outstanding three-year run against some of the most difficult teams ever assembled.
The Lakeland team was known for its brash style and competitive spirit. Teammates Garrett Smiley and Kevin Revell joined with Joshua to form the nucleus of an intimidating group of quizzers. In 1991, after Kevin graduated, Joshua and Garrett once again took Nationals by storm, finishing with a two-game lead over the second place team. Joshua was the 8th high scorer that season. In 1992, although his team slipped to 10th place, Joshua averaged 90 points per game to lead all scorers over Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
Over Joshua’s three National Finals appearances, he won two Championships and a scoring title. He takes his place among the greatest quizzers because of his talent, skill, style, and diligence. Today, Joshua lives in the Tampa, FL area with his wife and children where he coaches Bible Quiz. In 2010, his team won the National Championship.
For the Woottons, quizzing was a family thing. It began with Lisa’s parents, Sue and Harold, who served as coaches and built a top-flight program that qualified for Nationals all but one year from 1987 to 1995. Bartlesville finished in the top six teams at Nationals in each of Lisa’s five appearances.
Individually, Lisa was one of the top scorers in history. She was 5th in 1991, 4th in 1992, and 1st in 1993 and 1994. Lisa was a fiery competitor who worked extraordinarily hard and was devoted to her studies. In addition to her outstanding Nationals finishes, she was among the top scorers at every tournament she attended and was considered by many to be the single-greatest quizzer of her time.
Today, Lisa Wootton Ramsey lives in Springfield, MO with her family where her husband is a doctor.
It’s time to forget opinions, drop personal preferences, do away with niceties, and face the cold, hard facts - Kent Piacenti, by provable, statistical record, was the greatest quizzer ever to play the game. Like him, dislike him, or fear him at the quiz table (which most did), he was a quizzing machine. He was the perfect nexus of competitive drive, natural talent, unwavering poise, and unending dedication. It was never enough to win. Kent was built to dominate and set records, and he thrived in the perfection of his craft. Watching him quiz was a thing of beauty that few will ever forget.
Kent’s first year in BQ (1996) was as a Novice Division quizzer in the suburbs of Dallas with two coaches who were also “rookies.” One year later, in 1997, quizzing in the Dallas area, he bested his achievements by being the National High Scorer and leading his team to a 5th place finish. In 1998 he not only won the national team championship and the Individual Competition, he set the record for Individual High Score (132.83), smashing the previous record by more than 17 points per game (ppg) and breaking the record for Best Quiz-Out Percentage. Finally, in his last year (1999), he moved to the Orange Hills team in California, and captained his team to either tie, or break, every team record in the history of the program, tie for the most Individual Competition wins, tie his Best Quiz-Out Forward Percentage, and smash his own Individual High Score by more than 19 points per game with an astounding average of 152.17, including 16 perfect games.
Winning everything at National Finals in 1998 was never good enough for Kent; he wanted to push himself to not only his personal best, but to smash every record. What was so amazing was that he accomplished all of that while being the perfect captain for Ricky Haney and David Dorey, who had never quizzed beyond District Finals. In 1999, Kent found success as a quizzer, and a leader, not by focusing on himself, but by constantly encouraging his team to be their very best and helping to create a team atmosphere that made winning secondary to having a great time together. He was proud to lead them through an unbelievable year of quizzing. Lest anyone forget, Kent, in leading his team at his final year of National Finals, helped break 10 team records and tie or break 13 individual records.
Since graduation from BQ, Kent has pursued degrees in music and law, being named editor-in-chief of the Law Review at University of Virginia School of Law, obtaining a clerkship with a Federal Appeals Court Judge in Portland, and accepting a position with one of the top law firms in Texas.
Anyone who wants to view what everyone else saw in 1999 should watch the Orange Hills 1999 game against Allison Park, PA video, and the East-West Quiz video, in the Memories section of the 1999 History page on this website.
Blake Porter quizzed for James River Assembly in Ozark, MO from 2004-2009, and made five straight Nationals appearances with four 3rd-place team finishes. This remarkable run included three top-10 individual scoring finishes. In 2008, he won the Individual Tournament.
Blake was an extremely driven quizzer, often challenging his teammates to be better and pushing himself to do his best. At every tournament, Blake’s teams were consistently among the top finishers. From 2005 to 2008, Blake’s team won 4 consecutive Gulf Regional titles, and Blake was high scorer twice in that span.
In his 2008 Individual Tournament win, he had to mount a fierce comeback in the final few questions to earn the victory. In each of his teams’ four 3rd place finishes, they were in striking distance of winning the title. Quizzing at that level often comes down to one or two questions, leaving one to wonder what could have been. Through it all, Blake was his consistent, fiery self, driven to do his very best to win every possible game.
Blake’s fierce determination and notable consistency earn him a spot among the all-time greats. Today, Blake is studying accounting at Evangel.
Brandon Duffy quizzed from 2003 to 2009 and has one of the most impressive resumes around when it comes to doing well at nationals. He started his nationals career in 2004, quizzing for Calvary Chapel in Seattle, WA for coach Kari Brodin, a quizzing great in her own right.
The following year, Brandon started quizzing for Cedar Park Church in Bothell, WA under veteran coach Kent Kloefkorn. After the 19 rounds of normal round-robin play, his team was tied for first place with Lexington, KY, each with only two losses. In the first national championship playoff in a decade, Brandon quizzed out and helped lead his team to the 2005 national championship. The next four years, Kari Brodin coached Brandon and his teammates to four consecutive second place finishes. In 2006, Brandon teamed up with his sister Jenna-Jo and they won another playoff for second place. They faced another playoff in 2007 for the championship, narrowly losing on the last question to Colorado Springs, CO, in one of the most exciting quiz matches of the decade (video of this match may be seen here). They finished second in 2008 and 2009 as well, breaking a 30-year old record for consecutive second place finishes. Collectively, his teams had a record of 82 wins and 13 losses in the championship division.
Brandon had a fantastic individual career as well, placing in the top 6 in the championship division five years in a row and making the final round of the individual competition from 2006 to 2009 (winning in 2006). From a young age, Brandon impressed crowds with his ability to complete questions with early hits, and he was a master of the concordance.
Brandon will graduate in May 2012 from Northwest University with majors in biology and environmental science.
Abby Rogers is one of a very small number of current quizzers to make the list, and in looking at her brief but impressive resume’, it’s not difficult to see why. As a sixth-grade student in 2009, Abby stormed onto the Bible Quiz stage, finishing as the 3rd high scorer at Nationals. In that same year, she was also still participating in JBQ, where she finished as the high scorer at those Nationals.
2010 was, quite simply, the year of Abby Rogers. Her team, Victorious Life Church from Wesley Chapel, FL won the National Championship. Abby won the scoring title, the Individual Tournament, and the Quoting Bee. She is the only quizzer in history to pull off that hat trick. This was the first year that the Final Four format was used to crown a champion, and in the final game, Abby’s team upset the Owasso, OK team to capture the title.
Abby followed up her unprecedented 2010 with another scoring title in 2011. She led her team back to the Final Four and a 3rd-place finish. She again took the Quoting Bee crown after an exciting duel during the banquet.
Abby has four more years of quizzing ahead of her, and already she has become one of the greatest quizzers of all time. Today, she is a Freshman in High School and is continuing to dazzle Bible Quiz audiences everywhere she goes.