No fish out of water, Buena’s Knowledge Bowl triumphs as the big fish in the bowl


Andrew Coates

Buena’s Knowledge Bowl team proved to be the best in the league, beating out the other 9 teams that competed. (From left to right): Alex Cenzano, Elias Wiggins, James Rose, Dalton Fiscalini, Quinlan Vasquez, Hans Yahr, Andrew Coates

Claire Trask, Staff Writer

A quick google search names the “masseter” as the strongest muscle in the human body, and Buena’s Knowledge Bowl team can attest to the sentiment. After working tirelessly to strengthen their brains, and using those jaw muscles to perfectly answer trivia questions, Buena’s Knowledge team landed on top of 10 teams after a long awaited season.

Six try-out practices were held at the beginning of the year to scout for potential team members, and seven students were picked to be on the final roster. The final team included seniors Quinlan Vasquez, Dalton Fiscalini, Elias Wiggins, James Rose, juniors Hans Yahr, Alex Cenzano, and sophomore Michael Ramirez. The team was led by english teacher Andrew Coates, who participated in Knowledge Bowl when he was a student at Buena.

“[Coates] is incredibly witty,” junior Alex Cenzano said. “He is just a Knowledge Bowl kid that grew up to be an adult, [and] enjoys all stupid information. Any enthusiasm about Knowledge Bowl, he will match it times ten.”

The team practices during BARK, splitting up into two groups of three, answering 12 toss up questions, with a bonus question at the end. The questions are worth 10 points, and the bonus questions are worth 20.

“The practice questions were ample preparation for competition,” Cenzano said. “There were sometimes even repeats in competition.”

You cannot study for trivia, you either know it or you do not.

— Andrew Coates

Not only did preparation for the competitions occur during BARK, but the team also got a lot closer, and would walk with each other to their next classes, “goofing off” the entire way.

“The bonding helped us feel more confident in each other’s abilities,” senior Quinlan Vasquez said.  “It helped our mindsets going into the competitions, we stayed calm, cool and collected.”

They had four games a night, each lasted about 45 minutes with a 15 minute break between each game. Being put on by the American Association University of Women, a group who have a passion for knowledge, the members of Buena’s team remember the women fondly, saying they always put on a good event.

“One of the women, Kathy, came up to me and gave me a big squeeze,” Vasquez said. “She told me I was amazing, and that she had been thinking about how I blew her away, putting most of the boys to shame.”

Vasquez shared that the other teams were mostly boys, and that Kathy’s encouragement meant a lot. Vasquez felt more confident knowing she had the support of the women hosting the event.

“Being the only girl on the team was special because they did not make me feel like I was the only girl,” Vasquez said. “Whenever I would get down on myself they would never let me feel that way for too long.”

Members of the team look back on their accomplishment with great pride, and remember beating Newbury Park High School as one of the highlights of their season. They maintained a record of 9-1, having only lost to Pacifica High School, who lost to Newbury Park.

“It is cool to see these really smart kids exceed,” advisor Andrew Coates said. “They really did this year. They won first place.” 

Pictured here with their medals and trophy, they revel in their success as a team, and the long lasting friendships that have blossomed as a result. (Andrew Coates)

Although the team was composed of a large number of seniors, they hope to have just as successful a season next year.

“Next year I hope to secure a bigger lead,” Cenzano said. “Hopefully we can have a pretty stacked team and win again.”

To give the general student body a taste of the Knowledge Bowl magic, a student versus teacher match will take place in the little theater May 25. Despite the outcome of the upcoming competition against their teachers, the team will still revel in their triumph.

“I felt fantastic after the win,” Vasquez said. “I want to be buried with my medal.”