50 Greatest Quizzers of the First 50 Years - Set 3
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Ronnie Wright

Ronnie Wright quizzed for Evangel Temple in Decatur, Georgia from 1974 to 1978. His first year at nationals, in 1975, they placed sixth. However in both 1976 and 1978 they won the national championship. In 1978, Ronnie was also the top scorer. (We don't have complete individual data from the other two years).

His former teammate, Rhett Laurens, said of him, "Ron (or Ronnie as he was known back then) played a key role in both of the national championships that Decatur won in the late 1970s. He was a go-to leader on 20s and 30s and always kept his cool even under intense pressure. He wasn't a showy or flamboyant quizzer, but instead had a quiet, confident manner about him that provided his teammates with the calm reassurance and steady leadership that was pivotal to their success. After winning both the national team championship and the top scorer trophies in 1978, Ron could have quizzed another year under the eligibility rules at the time, but he made the difficult decision to "retire" and thus became one of the few in quiz history to be able to end his quizzing career at the very top of his game."

Ronnie went on to a very successful academic career, eventually graduating from Yale Law School. He is currently a Professor of Law at Wake Forest School of Law in North Carolina.

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Tari Hayward

Teri Hayward quizzed for First A/G in Tempe, AZ from 1984 to 1987. The only year we have her individual stats is 1986, where she placed 11th and averaged 64.33 points per game. That year was also the first year of the individual tournament, then played as a double-elimination one-on-one, and she was the first winner. In 1985, following the Final Four playoffs, her team placed 2nd, barely losing a playoff to Ypsilanti, MI on the last question. The following two years, in 1986 and 1987, they were back-to-back champions, going 12-3, then 14-2. These were also the first two years in which a 16-team round robin was played (with one extra team in 1987 due to a technicality).

The Tempe program was part of the superior run of the Southwest Region in the 80s. Teri was the leader of one of the top teams of that run, and her quizzing was key to her team's victory. A pioneer of one-on-one quizzing, she blazed a trail that all the top quizzers follow, seeking similar glory. Teri Hayward earned her spot among the 50 greatest quizzers.

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Bryan Wootton

Bryan Wootton quizzed from 1987 to 1993 for First A/G, Bartlesville, OK. His first year, in 1988, he placed 18th and average 39.67 points per game and his team finished 7th. In 1990, his team finished 6th. We have limited individual data from that year and do not know how he finished. In 1991 he placed 21st and average 51.33 points per game and his team finished 6th. In 1992, he finished third, with an unknown average (just above his sister, and hall-of-famer, Lisa) and his team placed third. In 1993, he placed 6th with an average of 72.11 and his team placed 2nd, with an impressive 17-2 record. In fact, his team was the only team to beat the national champions from Lakewood that year.

Bryan is a great example of the perfect team player. His skill set was designed to specifically complement the talented quizzers around him (whom he was also related to). Bryan was a very quick hitter, and often he set the pace in games. He was less concerned with his average points per game, and far more concerned with making certain his team won. The Woottons are, by and large, a competitive family, and Bryan made Bartlesville a contender. He also overcame some issues with stuttering, proving that such difficulties do not have to hold a quizzer back from being among the best. Anyone who quizzed against Bartlesville knew that they had to contend with Bryan if they wanted to win.

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Jeremy Rodriguez

Jeremy Rodriguez quizzed from 1988 to 1993 at Life Center in Lakewood, CA, making two very unexpected yet successful trips to National Finals, and his performance as a second-chair quizzer in 1993 was integral to the success of his team's National Championship. He is one of only a small handful of 2nd chair quizzers to be honored in this Top 50 project due to his memorable performances.

His route to a championship was unexpected because Jeremy started in the autumn of 1991 in the B-League. The NYM had changed the eligibility rules to be solely by age, which meant that a number of top quizzers across the country had another year of eligibility. However, in February of 1992 the NYM was forced to repeal the eligibility ruling retroactively to the beginning of the quiz year. Reeling from the loss of one of their top quizzers, Jeremy was pulled up quickly from the B-League to fill the void. All of a sudden he was forced, half way through the year, into extra memorization, concordance work, trips, tough competition, and a role on a team he had never expected.

Jeremy’s team, now seeing a chance at the 1992 championship as less of a possibility, made a concerted effort at the 1992 finals to do their best and use it to build toward a serious chance in 1993. The Lakewood team improved over the months leading up to 1992 National Finals and finished in a three-way tie for 4th place. Jeremy’s teammate, Dan Smith, won the 1992 One-on-One, and the team looked prepped to hit the ground running for the 1993 championship, which they did. From tournament to tournament during the 1992-93 season, Jeremy’s name moved closer and closer to the lists of high scorers. More impressive was that while the team’s captain, Dan Smith, was consistently scoring among the top five at each competition, Jeremy was second-chairing his team to one tournament victory after another. By the end of the tournament season, Lakewood had won ten tournaments and lost none, and Jeremy would often find himself hovering just below 10th place. However, it was at National Finals that Jeremy pushed himself to new heights. In three rounds he won the game by hitting and correctly answering the last, or last two, questions. When Dan had a bad game, Jeremy would turn it on and step up as the high scorer, going after questions Dan normally took, and showing a level of competiveness rarely seen at nationals. At the end of National Finals, Jeremy’s team had won the championship with a record of 18-1, their only loss coming on the last question of the game when he and Dan were already on the bench. At the time it was the greatest record since expansion. Jeremy also finished 8th high scorer behind his teammate in 2nd place. And in the One-on-One competition, Jeremy took out three quizzers who are on this "Top 50" list, finally finishing 3rd in a hard-fought semi-final.

His captain said of him: "Jeremy won Nationals for us. He was amazing and came through for the team when we really needed him." To top it off, the National Finals officials independently created a special award for Jeremy that was presented at the awards ceremony. They said his performance was the greatest "clutch quizzing" they had ever seen at Nationals. In one of the rounds, with his captain quizzed-out backwards, Jeremy anticipated perfectly and answered the last five questions to win the game in a year that everyone said the questions were the toughest they had ever seen. The opposing coach came up to him after the round and said in his familiar southern accent: "That’s the most amazing quizzing I have ever seen. You were anointed by God to win."

Since graduation, Jeremy completed his B.A. from California State University, and is active in both his church and various local charities. He regularly quizmasters in Southern California and has trained his parents to become BQ coaches.

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Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider quizzed from 1995 to 2001 in Colorado Springs, CO, first at Radiant Church then at the Church at Briargate (a church-plant of Radiant), quizzing all six years at national finals. In 1996, she placed 20th with an average of 55 points per game, getting a rare perfect game at nationals as a 7th grader. In 1997, she placed 15th with 60.87 points per game. She then placed top 6 the next four years: 4th in 1998 (83.04), 6th in 1999 (73.48), 3rd in 2000 (98.42) and 5th in 2001 (85.26). She also won the individual competition in 2000 and the Curtis Scholarship in 2001. From 1999 to 2001, her team also posted high finishes, earning 5th in 1999, 2nd in 2000 and winning national finals in 2001. Jordan also is the daughter of Jodi Heugel, top scorer and championship team member from 1977.

Throughout her career, and especially in 2000 and 2001, Jordan was a formidable opponent to any team she played against. She was especially skilled at very extensive concordance work, both due both to experience and having a network of very bright former quizzers at her disposal. She was a very clean, and very fast quoter. The final round of the 2000 Individual Tournament, which she won, featured one especially hard 30, asking for all Old Testament Scriptures in Galatians. She gave a flawless answer in 20 seconds, causing the quizmaster to remark, "It was only 10 answers, not 25!"

The following year featured one of the most exciting matches at national finals ever. Following round 17, Briargate was in first place with three losses. Four teams, Topeka, Tulsa, Lebanon and King's Chapel from Springfield, MO were tied with four losses and Briargate had to face King's Chapel. The rest of the story, we leave to King's Chapel's captain, Richard Fair:

I was there. I really was. It is the only time, and probably the last time I will ever see a single question last at least 30 minutes due to contesting (without any appeals to the coordinator). Here's what was tricky. Briargate was up by 5 points with 2 questions left 19 for 20 points and 20 for 10 points. Number 19 was a Scripture Text Question, Give A Complete Answer From 2 consecutive verses. From Luke Chapter 6. Jordan had 5 right, so even if we got 19, she could get 20 for the quiz-out and win.

Question 19. What happened when Jesus, quote, "stood on a level place?"

I interrupted on Jesus and [got it] wrong. We then knew that it was over. The reread went to Jordan and she got it right. We confer. However, we contest on Jordan's answer. Here is Luke 6:17 and 18.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured,

In verse 18, Jordan said the word sicknesses rather than diseases. We contest incorrect information due to Luke 7:21:

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.

It was a brilliant idea to contest; I'd like to say I thought of it, but Eric Hernando did. Our premise was that since:

A: Luke 7:21 lists three different things--especially differentiating between diseases and sicknesses.
B: Luke 6:18 only mentions diseases and not both or just sicknesses
C: sicknesses is incorrect information.

Initial vote was cast and split. Doug [Black], Lorna Albanese, and George Edgerly discussed and discussed and discussed and discussed the issue. Meanwhile, other teams are looking into our room to see what's happening.

We won the contest. Jordan then was counted wrong, given 30 seconds to confer and contests. I can't remember if that contest was a split vote or not, but it took a while on this question. Some team parents were filming this match and the camera went dead after this question.

It is kind of ironic, though, that the match was won on 20 and not 19. When I missed the question, that should've been it. Jordan then hits on Luke 2:fo(u)r... and pulls it out. Here were the possibilities for a 10 point analysis question:

2:4 several individuals and geographical locations
2:14 Glory to God in the highest...no analysis
2:41 Jerusalem
2:43 Jerusalem or Jesus
2:45 Jerusalem
No other analysis in the 40's

Obviously 43 would be a bad verse, Jordan decided to pick 41 and was right. I asked her later how she knew 41, and she said that she remembered 45 being asked earlier in the year, so she went for 41. I didn't even remember what I ate for breakfast that day let alone questions asked 6 months earlier. But, I guess it's little things like that that help win Nationals. She quizzed out by the way, and Briargate had sealed up a well-deserved national title.

Following graduation, Jordan continued to be involved with Bible Quiz for many years, including coaching the 2004 national champions from Briargate. She recently graduated from medical school and is currently an OB/GYN resident at the University of Colorado. She and her husband Ben are currently expecting their first child.

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Dan Marlow

Dan Marlow quizzed from 1995 to 2001 and while he only appeared at national finals twice, he was extremely successful both years. In 2000 he was top scorer among a very dense field of good quizzers, including several others on the top 50 list. He averaged 107.89 points per game and quizzed for Adat Yeshua Messianic Center in Overland Park, Kansas. Dan had only one other teammate that year, yet they managed to place 8th with a record of 11-8. The following year, 2001, Dan quizzed for Topeka, Kansas. That year, Dan was 2nd high scorer, averaging 105.79 points per game. His team also finished 2nd following a playoff match against Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dan also finished second in the individual competition, the final match of which may be seen here.

To those who quizzed against him, Dan was known as an extremely smart quizzer who was able to figure out concordance items to study on his own. Very few had seen him quiz before the 1999-2000 tournament season, yet he continued to earn top scorer titles at all the nations biggest tournaments. In addition, he was always willing to study with other quizzers via chat. One person who quizzed against him said, "Dan was always fun to quiz against. I don't think we ever had a boring match against him. He was also great at encouraging other quizzers. When we quizzed him at nationals in 2000, after I answered a particularly hard 30, he called a time-out just so he could shake my hand! I'll never forget that."

Since graduation, Dan earned degrees in accounting and finance and serves as controller for a leading pork processor.

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Molly Pace

Molly pace quizzed from 2000 to 2006, and during that time amassed three national championships, more than anyone at that time but her former captain, David Dorey. This was done in 2001 as a sub, in 2004 as a consummate 10-point quizzer and third chair who went on to place 3rd in the individual competition, and finally in 2006 as 6th high scorer, first chair, and team captain.

It is clear that Molly's skills were based on consistent and in-depth study and review. Molly's strengths at the quiz table were poise, consistency, and strategy, which she showed time and again in her team's 2004 and 2006 National Championships. As the captain of her 2006 championship team, Molly’s ability to make the "butterflies" in her teammate's stomachs "all fly in the same direction" proved to be the knockout blow that won the competition in the critical 18th and 19th rounds. Even when she was feeling and quizzing a little bit out of sorts, she could inspire the confidence in her team to pull out the victory. In her team's earlier victory in 2001 as a sub, she was the young, pixyish encourager, with the moxie to tell her much older teammates they could win, regardless of the situation.

Her ability to see time at the quiz table as an opportunity to do her best, rather than as a stomach-turning pressure cooker, allowed her to keep her negative points low and to hit questions that for her were high-probability interruptions. In a critical game at 2006 National Finals, when the team held a one game lead most of the tourney, Molly got off to an uncharacteristically bad start in a critical round against another top team, and had two wrong by question five. She was taken out of the game to pull herself together, and during the time out told her team she just needed to regroup and she would be fine. As her teammates returned to the table you could see her praying and mentally crossing her fingers at the same time. Her teammates managed to stay close to the other team but could not gain ground. At question 15 a time out was called and Molly was returned to the game with the instructions that barring a turnover they had to have four of the last five questions to win. She said "no problem" and took her position to the surprised looks of the opposing team. Molly proceeded to hit the next three questions with perfect anticipation and in a place that could only be converted to positive points by someone who had spent hours studying the writing style. She nailed the completions and answers and put the team within striking distance. She made the other team so nervous that they called a frantic time out and spent it freaking themselves out that Molly had come back so strong. In their fear of losing a critical game, they hit the 19th question so early that it would take a miracle guess to get it right. Molly took the re-read and sealed the game to the elation of her teammates. It was this type of intangible skill which the record books cannot record that made Molly the quizzer and captain she was.

Molly has seemingly always been in ministry as a Sunday School teacher and nursery leader. She has a servant’s heart and the knowledge of God's word upon which to base her ministry. She recently graduated from college and is involved in Library Sciences and as a teacher and presenter at community educational events. She has continued to be involved in Bible Quiz as a coach and official.

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Jon Galliers

Jon Galliers quizzed for First A/G, Lexington, KY from 2002 to 2006, with four appearances at national finals. Only starting quizzing as a 9th grader, Jon took to the game like a natural placing fourth place in the championship division his first year, 2003 with an average of 84.21 points per game. While his team placed 10th that year, the next three years were extremely successful for both Jon and his team. In 2004, Lexington won second place in a tense playoff match against Spring City, PA. Jon placed second, averaging 98.68 points per game. In 2005, they tied for first place, losing to Bothell in a playoff match. Jon led the scoring field with an average of 97.89 points per game. Finally, in 2006, his team placed fourth while Jon became the fifth recorded person in history to win back-to-back scoring titles. In addition, 2006 was the first year modern year in which five questions were required for a quiz-out instead of six, and Jon became the first person to quiz out every round of national finals at least since expansion.

It's been mentioned before that many of the truly great quizzers have a natural talent for both memorization, concordance work and playing the game. Jon excelled at all of these. Even as a first year quizzer, he amazed audiences with his ability to answer concordance questions in a year that featured extremely difficult concordance questions. He was a very clean quoter and was able to hit questions very early due to his superior knowledge of the material. Moreover, his team was very friendly, both among themselves and to other teams and continues to be such under the coaching of Dave and Karen White.

Following quiz, Jon attended Eastern Kentucky University. In 2008, he married Bethany Laakkonen, another former quizzer. They have one daughter, Amariah.

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Jared Burkhalter

Jared Burkhalter quizzed from 2003 to 2009 for Faith A/G in Orlando, Florida. His first year, in 2004 he was a substitute and only scored averaged 10 points per game. His team placed 7th that year. The following year, 2005, he was the top scorer on his team, averaging 53.95 points per game. His team placed 12th. He average 53.16 points per game in 2006 while his team placed 17th. The next three years both he and his team experienced major success. In 2007, he led the individual field, averaging 105.53, 17 points per game above the next quizzer. His team placed 6th. In 2008 he placed 2nd with a 106.32 point average, only 70 points behind the top scorer. His team ended up 4th. Finally, in 2009, he retook the individual title averaging 115.79 points per game and his team finished third.

As a younger quizzer, Jared was constantly trying to make himself a better quizzer, getting quite frustrated at not being about to break through into the top tier, despite countless hours of studying. Once 2007 hit, he took off like a pro and was nearly untouchable. He had to work very hard to quote clearly when quoting fast, and improved dramatically between 2006 and 2009. His last three years yielded impressive performances at nationals and secured his place on this list.

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Jesse Wagner

Jesse Wagner quizzed from 2006 to 2011 for Owasso First A/G in Owasso, OK. At his first National Finals, in 2007 Jesse placed 26th, but followed this with three top ten finishes for individual score in the next four years (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011) and three National Championships with his brothers. Jesse has never been the high scorer on his team, but his consistently amazing performance as third and second chair has made Owasso’s outstanding accomplishments possible, and he is one of only a small handful of second chair quizzers to make the Top 50, which is quite an impressive feat. Jesse may often seem less intense at the quiz table than either Josh or Daniel, but don’t let his easy going manner fool you, his commitment to God and studying his word have been proven time and again in his team and individual placement.

Owasso's first year at national finals, 2007, they placed 16th in the championship division, yet the following year they would leap forward to a dominating, undefeated championship and begin a four-year run that would leave them as one of the most dominant teams of the first 50 years of BQ. In 2008, Owasso won again, and Jesse finished 7th behind his brother Josh’s 5th place finish. In 2009 their team won again, becoming only the 7th team to win two championships, and Jesse placed 18th behind his brother Josh in 7th and his brother Daniel in 11th, one of the greatest three-man finishes in history. In 2010, Owasso finished the round-robin in first, but finished 2nd place overall after a new playoff format was introduced, with Jesse finishing 5th behind his brother Daniel in 4th. Finally, in his last year of competition, 2011, Owasso won Nationals for the third time, becoming only the 5th team to win Nationals three or more times, while Jesse finished 4th behind his brother Daniel in 3rd, tying the best 1-2 finish by two people on a team since expansion in 1984, which was accomplished by a brother-sister duo from Bartlesville, OK in 1992. Further, Jesse became one of only two other quizzers to ever win Nationals three times. In his five years at National Finals, Jesse quizzed out 62 times as a second chair quizzer, which is an amazing feat. His team's three national championships also doubled the previous three championships won by teams from the South Central Region.

What some may not be aware of is that Jesse has already been involved in ministry for a number of years as both an Evangelist and a Musician. He has definitely taken the knowledge gained from Bible Quiz and allowed the Holy Spirit to help him turn it into applicable wisdom. Jesse has not only led worship in various ministries in the U.S., but across the world. Under his father’s direction, Jesse has preached to thousands, and has gone forth and headed up youth conventions in heavily non-Christian countries, administrating and speaking to crowds in excess of 10,000. Jesse knows he has been called by God to a life of ministry through speaking and music, and has clearly developed his God-given talent in both areas.

His future plans include finishing his college degree and moving forward in the ministries God sets before him. Regardless of where he goes to minister, he knows the Spirit will encourage and sustain him by the words he has committed to his mind and his heart.