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Area students ready to show knowledge

Brainerd High School Knowledge Bowl teams Elena Hirst (left), Alex Ryan, Adam We1 / 2
Pierz High School juniors Katie MacDonell (left), Krystal Hoheisel, Zach Erickso2 / 2

President Ford awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to what composer of songs that include “This Is the Army” and “God Bless America?”

How long did it take you to answer Irving Berlin? 

Brainerd and Pierz high school Knowledge Bowl team members have done a good job in answering questions like these  — and many of them — as fast as they can as they qualified to compete in the 2011 Minnesota state e Tournament.

Two BHS teams and one Pierz team will compete in the state meet scheduled Thursday and Friday at Cragun’s Resort. The two Brainerd teams will compete in the AA division or large school. Pierz will compete in the A division or small school.

Twenty-four teams in each division have advanced to state. These top 48 teams outlasted 800 teams from 290 high schools. At the end of the Knowledge Bowl season, teams competed in sub-regions and region tournaments before qualifying for the state bowl.

Brainerd Knowledge Bowl coach Dave Borash is pleased two teams will be representing Brainerd at the state competition. Borash said each of the teams are well-rounded in all the different subjects.

On Brainerd’s “We’re Still Thinking” team are senior Alex Ryan and juniors Nick Greatens, Elena Hirst and Adam Weiss. Greatens and Hirst both competed at state last year and they placed 12th. The team’s goal this year is to place in the top six.

Brainerd’s “Hipster and Friends” team includes juniors Louis Grabowski, Cole Perttula and Nick Brambilla and sophomore Alec Starzinski, whom are newbies to the state tournament. Brambilla said his team does not have a goal for the competition.

“We’re going for the fun,” he said. “It’s not about placing. We’re here for the fun. My strategy is to buzz the fastest ... And to intimidate the other teams.”

Pierz Knowledge Bowl coach Randy Fischer said, “The team’s ultimate goal is to place sixth or better to earn a medal. Their more realistic goal is to finish in the top 10.”

The Pierz team consists of seniors Katie MacDonell, Krystal Hoheisel, Zach Erickson, Nathan Welle and Charlie Corbett. Fischer said the team did not make it to the regional meet as 10th-graders, but finished in eighth place this year.

“The team’s major strength is how well they work together,” said Fischer. “It is particularly encouraging, as a coach, to observe the high level of trust they have in each other.”

The state tournament begins at 7 p.m. Thursday with the teams competing in a written round. Friday’s meet begins at 8:30 a.m. for five oral rounds.

The National Joint Powers Alliance said the Knowledge Bowl is an interdisciplinary academic competition that promotes academic achievement and rewards academic excellence for students in grades seven though 12. Teams of students work cooperatively to solve oral and written round questions. No team is eliminated during a meet and every team participates in every round. Questions are related to all areas of learning typical of middle grades and secondary educational programs. Knowledge Bowl competitions test students’ recall and problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills and teamwork skills.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851.