A five-student team from the University of Rochester defeated teams from 15 other universities in a come-from-behind, first-place finish in this year's National College Bowl Tournament in St. Paul, Minn. The team will hold an engraved silver cup until next year's competition.
"At one point, Rochester was down by 140 points in the second game of the four straight that they won, but clawed their way back and took a five-point lead," said Tom Michael of the College Bowl, about Sunday's tournament at Macalester College. After that, the team won two more games in the playoff round to capture the title. The national championship is the first for a University of Rochester team.
The College Bowl's illustrious history is known through television, radio, and on college campuses. The game of questions and answers played by two teams of competing students rewards general knowledge and quick recall, and has entertained audiences for more than 50 years.
Members of Rochester's winning team are Rebekah Greene, captain and an English graduate student from Rochester; William Finan III, a freshman from Irondequoit, N.Y., who was named an All-Star player; Eric Keihl, a senior majoring in history from Livonia, N.Y.; Laura Nemeth, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry from Fairport, N.Y.; and Benjamin Seitelman, a freshman majoring in political science from Highland Park, Ill. The team is coached by Jack Schermeyer, a 2004 alumnus of the College from Fairport, and advised by Stacey Fisher, assistant director of Student Activities.
"Our students give us many reasons to be proud of their intellectual achievements, both in the classroom and in their extra-curricular activities," said Dean of the College Richard Feldman. "This national championship in the College Bowl is yet more evidence that we have at Rochester some of the very brightest and most able students of any university in the nation. We are very proud of their accomplishment, and of the hard work and dedication that made it possible."
During the April 25 to 27 tournament, the team from the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering performed with a "balanced attack—every player on this team contributed to the championship," commented Schermayer. And earlier in the regional round, Fisher described the playing atmosphere as "just as emotional and exciting as being in the stands at a Final Four basketball game. Each player brought talents and vast knowledge to every match," she said.
Rochester beat its Region 2 competitors—RIT and SUNY Brockport, among others—and traveled with other regional winners to Minnesota. Competitors included teams from Ohio State, Washington University at St. Louis, the University of Wisconsin, Rice, and the University of New Mexico. Last year's winner was the University of Minnesota.
Rochester has fielded teams in regional College Bowl tournaments since the early 1980s, and has competed at nationals three times since 2002—finishing in the top three in both 2003 and 2005. The national tournament has two phases: during the round-robin portion, each team plays every other team on Saturday. The top four teams then advance to a double-elimination playoff on Sunday.
In a fortuitous surprise, the Rochester team received a question about suffragist Susan B. Anthony. "The funny thing is the answer was 'Rochester.' It was really good to get that one right," joked Finan.
Being coach is a part-time job for Schermeyer, who also worked with the 2005 and 2006 teams. He connected at the championship tournament with another alumnus—Gordon Arsenoff, a 2006 graduate who is now team captain for Washington University. Arsenoff had success of his own: He tied for first in individual scoring at the tournament.
Rochester's captain, Rebekah Greene, also has a history with College Bowl. She has competed in tournaments for both the University of Rochester and for SUNY Brockport. "After five years of playing campus tournaments, it's great to finally win the big one," she said.