Baylor College Bowl Team Excels at National Tournament

  • News Photo 4107
    pictured are team captain John Solter with the trophy, Sarah Swinney, Eric Headstream, Baylor President John M. Lilley, Stephanie Bialko and Dr. Brent Froberg, team coach
  • News Photo 4106
    from left: Erik Ellis, John Solter, Sarah Swinney, Stephanie Bialko and Eric Headstream
May 22, 2007

by Paige Patton, communication specialist, (254) 710-3321

The Baylor University College Bowl team's third trip to the national tournament in four years ended with their best finish ever--placement in the final four. The team competed May 4-6 at the University of Southern California, with other top teams from across the nation.

This year's team consisted of captain John Solter, a senior finance and entrepreneurship major from Prairie Village, Kan.; Stephanie Bialko, a senior anthropology major from Dumont, N.J.; Erik Ellis, a graduate student studying history from Catoosa, Okla.; Eric Headstream, a junior philosophy major from Katy; and Sarah Swinney, a junior classics, history and museum studies major from Bethany, Okla. The veteran team was undefeated in the regional tournament and was primed for excellence, according to Dr. Brent Froberg, team coach and lecturer in the classics department.

The national tournament was a round-robin format, where each of the 16 teams played each other in 15 games. Baylor won 11 of 15 matches, securing them a third-place award for the first round of the tournament. In the second round, Baylor joined Williams College, the University of Minnesota and the University of Southern California for a double-elimination match-up. Baylor lost its first two matches for a fourth place overall finish, the highest ever for the team.

"Great parity characterized these top four teams," Froberg said. "After all, Baylor had defeated Southern Cal and Williams (that school's only loss) in the round robin. But College Bowl consists of matches involving rounds of questions that sometimes may, by the selection, favor one good team over another."

Froberg credits the experienced, well-balanced team for their impressive finish. Bialko scored more points than any other woman at the tournament, and Solter has been a leader to team members since being named to the All-Star College Bowl team in 2004, Froberg said.

Solter and Bialko graduated on May 12, and Ellis will receive his master's degree in December, so there is much room for growth in the coming months.

"I'll have some large gaps to fill when it comes to forming next year's team," Froberg said. "But we do have some good younger players who show great promise, so I feel reasonably optimistic about the coming year."

In addition to the team's noteworthy finish, Froberg said he is very proud of the positive behavior they demonstrated.

"One of the moderators from the tournament spoke to me and complimented our team for its excellent level of sportsmanship," he said.

Although the College Bowl competition is over, one team member isn't ready to leave behind trivia tournaments. Bialko recently auditioned for Jeopardy! in Dallas after passing the online qualifying test. Froberg said that many College Bowl players have an aptitude for quiz shows because of the wide knowledge base and similar formats.

After competing in College Bowls himself at Indiana University, Froberg has been involved with the organization for more than 40 years.

"I love the personal association that I have enjoyed with our players," he said. "I have learned from them, and I hope that they have learned from me. It always does so much for me to know that we have such remarkable students at Baylor, students who have read and experienced widely and deeply those very things that make us well-rounded and well-educated."

For decades, College Bowl - known as "The Varsity Sport of the Mind" - has provided the arena for the fastest minds in school to demonstrate their great skills under the fire of varsity competition. The world-famous game of questions and answers played by two teams of competing students was first featured on the NBC radio network from 1953-57, and then on TV as the "GE College Bowl" from 1959-70. The questions cover many categories including literature, history, government, fine arts, sports, general knowledge, science, pop culture and philosophy.

For more information about the College Bowl, visit the web site at www.collegebowl.com, or for information about Baylor's team, contact Froberg at Brent_Froberg@baylor.edu.

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