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In a charged atmosphere that pitted four-person teams against each other in a fast-paced format, the final night at the KAET studios brought together four teams who had survived the previous two nights of competition with no losses.
Sixteen teams of undergraduates from 11 ASU colleges had started on Tuesday night, trying to answer brain-teasers before the buzzer sounded. The W.P. Carey School of Business team and the Gold team from the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering also survived to reach the finals.
Moderator was Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, the executive director of ASU Public Events, who joked with the contestants to ease the tension. All four undefeated teams had two more chances to win the double-elimination tournament, and while there were nervous grins, the competitive juices of these top students ran high.
The Carey School and the Fulton School met first and managed to stay neck-and-neck, but the engineers pulled ahead on quadratic equations and scientific principles. Final score: Fulton 125, Carey 115.
Maroon and Gold from CLAS had their first match-up, with the comic book geeks chiming in on X-Men and the history buffs on Watergate. Gold flubbed the E.M. Forster questions – no English majors on this team – and Maroon triumphed at 275-115.
What statue had to be hauled away on the backs of 900 camels to Syria? What were the place names in Virgil’s Aeneid? While the engineers of Fulton knew who the killers were in Hamlet, they were no match for the CLAS Maroon team, and CLAS won 440-70.
The Carey School had a strong start against CLAS Gold in the fourth match, answering questions about Switzerland and Hemingway novels. There was a comical gasp from the crowd when CLAS named the wrong singer who accompanied Madonna in a music video. But CLAS pulled ahead to win 180-140, sending Carey home.
CLAS Gold crushed Fulton Gold in the fifth match, answering questions about immigration, political leaders in the Congo and Monty Python films. Fulton knew about the Fibonacci Sequence, but in the end they lost 275-90 and were eliminated.
It was a nail-biter when the two CLAS teams met again in what could have been a final match. The score went back and forth between the two as teams answered questions about baseball, Biblical history, electrical current, biology and Toni Morrison novels. The buzzer sounded on a tie, 225-225. Gold won the toss-up question and the match, 235-225.
A final face-off between the CLAS teams again ranged all over the map with questions about math, U.S. rivers, music, chemistry, African war crimes and economists. But this time CLAS Maroon took an early lead and held it, winning 295-195.
Virgil Renzulli, the vice president of ASU Public Affairs which sponsored the contest, awarded the winners a trophy and scholarships of $7,500 each. The second-place team members and alternates received $1,000 scholarships.
Seven out of the eight members of the final two CLAS teams are also enrolled in Barrett, the Honors College.
Members of the winning CLAS Maroon team are Carolyn Moss, senior in history and Chinese from Woodlands, Texas; Kenneth Lan, biology junior from Tempe; Matthew Smith, junior in earth and space exploration from Baxter, Minn.; and Theodore Miller, senior in Russian from Bloomington, Ind.
Members of the CLAS Gold team are Christopher Chesny, sophomore in political science from Claremore, Okla.; Hannah Thoreson, physics sophomore from Mayville, N.D.; Kevin Coltin, freshman economics major from Phoenix; and Louis Weimer, sophomore in history and political science from Boulder, Colo.