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What Terrier Team Ended Its Season 11-3?

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Question: What Terrier team ended its season 11-3, ranking third in its regional tournament?

Answer: Wofford’s 2002-2003 College Bowl team.

Question: How can Wofford hold its own among teams from large universities that include graduate students in a competition that is the academic equivalent of the NCAA basketball tourney?

Answer: Read on.

Wofford President Benjamin Dunlap says the innate intelligence and insatiable curiosity characteristic of “Terriers” led the campus College Bowl team to its best showing ever in the 2002-2003 season, with a solid group of promising players returning for competition next year. The team placed third in the Southeast regional tournament, finishing just behind VMI and Davidson, and defeating defending champion Roanoke College, in fourth place. Benjamin Ingram, a sophomore from Florence, S.C., placed 3rd in the individual rankings at Regionals; this is the highest score any individual player from Wofford has ever received at that level of competition.

“It’s not all that surprising that Wofford fared so well against those giants. In fact, what the winning teams almost invariably have in common is a true commitment to liberal arts learning,” Dunlap said. “Universities have a bigger pool to draw on, but institutions like Wofford have a better pool to start with.”

The Region 5 tournament, which included teams from Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, was held Feb. 21-22 at Clemson University. With an overall season record of 11-3, Wofford’s team was in second place after the Round Robin, which qualified them for the finals for the second time in five years. The team placed fourth in the regional tournament in 2000.

“The expansion of our team has brought about the broadening of our knowledge base. Our players each have different areas of expertise, and this development has been incredibly valuable,” said senior Tyler Schachte of Charleston, S.C., 2002-2003 captain and Phi Beta Kappa member. “Wofford has a very young, enthusiastic team, and I think the next two years will be particularly strong.”

Schachte had particular praise for Ingram, who will be captain of the team in 2003-2004. This year’s team members also included freshman Benjamin McCraw of Inman, S.C.; freshman Melia Brannon of Taylors, S.C., and junior Catherine England of Charleston, S.C. Throughout the year, 12 students participated in Wofford’s College Bowl competitions, with the season’s top five scorers making up the team for finals.

Dr. Natalie Grinnell, associate professor of English, coached the team, along with her departmental colleague, Dr. Sally Hitchmough. Grinnell said the team faced tough competition in the tournament. “It really was an excellent performance by a strong team,” says Grinnell, who has coached Wofford for five years.

College Bowl is an academic competition with a question-and-answer game-show format. It is similar to Jeopardy in that it tests quick recall of facts, but teamwork is critical to success.The competition is a direct descendant of a popular network television program of the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the concept (with slightly different rules) is also popular in high schools, where it is called Quiz Bowl.

Although many College Bowl teams still seem to be dominated by men, Schachte said that in the four years she participated, she observed a noticeable increase in women student participants overall. However, interestingly, Wofford’s team almost always has had a slight female majority, she says.

“Universities can place graduate students on their teams and thus enjoy the advantage of more experience, but I would argue that we have the advantage of greater native wit -- and, in Wofford’s case, being Terriers at heart, we‘re impelled by an insatiable curiosity,” Dunlap smiles. “Multo in parvo indeed! (which, loosely translated for the benefit of losing teams), means ‘good things really do come in small packages.’”

By Tanya Bordeaux Hamm ’89