Walter Payton College Prep Scholastic Bowl is making history

By Kieran Blake, Staff Writer

Members of the Scholastic Bowl team Karl Barnickol, Ian Mann, Riona Duncan, Addison Baker, and Matias Roa celebrated after a competition.

Walter Payton College Prep Scholastic Bowl is making history. In just their third season in existence, the Walter Payton College Prep Scholastic Bowl team attended seven tournaments and went 53-9 in all– and in the process, they became the first CPS school since 2005 to win their IHSA Regional on March 6, 2023. They qualified for the NAQT 2023 High School National Championship Tournament at their first tournament of the season, and they also placed first at the 24th IHSSBCA Turnabout at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. They have consistently had individual scorers in the top 20, and the future is looking bright for Scholastic Bowl at Walter Payton.

So what is Scholastic Bowl? Scholastic Bowl is an academic-based trivia competition, with nine major categories: history, literature, science, math, religion/mythology, fine arts, philosophy/social science, geography, and popular culture/current events. There are two different types of questions. The first are tossups, which are worth 10 points each– 15 if a person gets it early enough, and then there are bonuses, sets of three related questions that can be answered by a team if they get the tossup– and that the other team can answer if the first team gets them wrong.

Some members of the Scholastic Bowl team decided to share their thoughts on what the experience has been like so far this season and how it feels to be a part of history.

“This was a really phenomenal experience,” senior Felix Mundy-Mancino stated. “We were able to create one of the best teams in Illinois almost from scratch in the span of a year and a half. Everyone on the team was great, and I think we worked really well together. For people like me who aren’t athletically gifted, Scholastic Bowl was the first real team I was able to be a part of.”

Junior Matias Roa had a similar experience. “It’s a great game, I had a lot of fun, I met some great people,” he told me. “It’s not even that much work and I learned so much — never felt stupider in my life — 10/10 experience.”

One junior (who wished to remain anonymous) responded, “Really fun, and quite an ego boost to see how much we’ve improved since last year. We weren’t winning or getting top 5 in tournaments, and I wasn’t getting top 10 individual performances.”

“I had fun going to the two meets I went to even if I didn’t do the best,” commented sophomore Tyler Birks.

Some common themes were expressed. First and foremost, Scholastic Bowl is a way to unwind, have some fun, and make some great friends and memories. Secondly, this team has seen some remarkable improvements from where they were last year to where they are now. They went from being a decent team to becoming a legitimate threat to other schools at competitions. And finally, all in all, it’s just a great experience that all people can participate in and have fun doing, regardless of athletic ability.

The responses were mixed when it came to how they felt about making history. Roa took a more humble approach, stating that he felt “not much different” and that their regional win was “just another win in the books”. Both Roa and Mundy-Mancino also acknowledged that not many CPS schools participate in Scholastic Bowl, with Mundy-Mancino hoping that “this starts a trend of not only selective enrollment schools but all of CPS taking over Illinois Scholastic Bowl”.

Pride was still shown, as Birks responded that “it feels great to know how good our scholastic bowl team is”. The junior also exclaimed that it feels “amazing” and that they are “only gonna get better”.

All in all, Walter Payton Scholastic Bowl has had a tremendous season so far this year, and with IHSA Sectionals and NAQT Nationals on the horizon, the future is looking bright for what has been one of the greatest seasons– if not the greatest season– in CPS Scholastic Bowl history.

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