Nationals 1996

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Memories from Karl Dawson

The following recollections were written by Karl Dawson of the third place team from Central A/G, Springfield, MO.

It’s funny what you remember. 1996 was my senior year and my fourth trip to Nationals. We had come in second at Regionals to Shreveport, and our second team had finished a very surprising third. This was the first (and only, so far) time Central A/G took two teams to Nationals. We hosted, which is not nearly as cool as it sounds. It was actually the third consecutive year Nationals had been in our District, so we were a little bored of it.

I remember that Marcae (Johnson) Robertson had stopped coaching us that year in order to get ready to go to the mission field. That left us with my mom, which wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Todd Katter and Kayla Rowe were my teammates, and we had worked pretty hard all summer. Back then, I took responsibility for all the analysis and concordance work, and Todd focused on quotes and completions. Kayla’s role was 10s and rereads, and she really filled that hole we had been missing the year before. It was her first year quizzing, but she memorized it all and worked to keep pace with Todd and me.

I remember scrimmaging one of the teams a couple days before the tournament started. We quizzed awful. Todd and I were taking ridiculous chances and killing ourselves. When we went into the real game against them, I think they were a little surprised…it was like a whole different team showed up.

During that season, Todd and I really shared the traditional “first chair” role. In fact, at both Districts and Regionals, Todd was high point quizzer. At Nationals, we still shared the scoring load, though I think my experience quizzing at that level probably gave me a slight edge. Much was made that year about my quiz out total, 18, a record at the time. I don’t think I scored more than 130 in a single game. I was just playing for questions, and counting on Todd to make his hits. I was as excited that he finished in the top 10 individually as I was for myself.

Now it’s time to talk about heartbreak. On the last day, we played Syracuse (the eventual champs, and a great team). We were down most of the game, and I had to get the last two questions and quiz out to tie. Mission accomplished. In overtime, which back then was three 20s, Todd gets the first, Joy Daigle gets the second. The third was an oddly constructed question, and it goes about six words past the key word, Joy gets it, and that’s the game. If we had won that game, there would have been a three-way tie for first place at the end. I still give Todd a hard time about that one.

Our last regulation game was against Oshkosh, WI in Sue Wootton’s room. I remember that Marcae, Rob Laurens, and my mom were all there. My last question was the chapters of Hebrew in which Moses is named. When I quizzed out, Marcae, my mom, and Sue all cried. I thought it was kind of funny.

We played off for third against Naperville. Jolene and I had quizzed each other a lot, so there weren’t any surprises here. I think Todd missed a couple early and had to play more conservatively (we both did that a lot). I remember focusing on not quizzing out until we could ice the game, and so I tried to pick my questions carefully. I think I went out at 16 or 17 to put it out of reach.

I was blessed to get to know a lot of people and to quiz at Nationals starting in 8th grade at a competitive level. I owe a great deal of thanks to Marcae for teaching me how to quiz, and for not killing me on the many occasions I’m sure she wanted to. I made great friends, some of which are life-long. Nationals is such an awesome experience, I am thrilled to see students get to be a part of it even today. I hope their memories are as fantastic as mine have been.