Ridgefield’s brightest win second knowledge bowl national championship


Ridgefield High School’s Varsity Knowledge Bowl team won its 2A national championship on Saturday, April 20.

This marks the team’s second national championship victory since 2022. The knowledge bowl national championship tournament was held online through the Discord voice app. Team captain and Ridgefield High School senior Adam Ford said the style of competition is similar to the television gameshow Jeopardy, where competing teams have to buzz in, only they can answer questions before they are finished.

“I was peer-pressured into (knowledge bowl) since seventh grade,” Ford said. “Some good friends of mine wouldn’t not let me do it. So I came to practice one day and never stopped coming ever since.”

Included in the champion varsity team is senior Stuart Swing-Grouper, senior Emiliana Newell, and Junior James Haddix. Prior to the main competition, teams were placed in different online rooms based on scores from a required multiple-choice test. Ridgefield’s team placed fifth initially but quickly made its way to the top, Coach David Jacobson said.

“They were in the second hardest (room) after the written (test), but then they dominated that room,” Jacobson said. “We’re No. 1 in the nation, and (they) stayed No. 1 in the nation all day, I believe. I don’t think they were ever not No. 1 in the nation.”

Ford and his peers faced off against at least 10 of the 30 teams that participated in the national competition. Ridgefield’s team lost one round during the tournament and beat the final team in its division by a few points in a close match. In one match, Ford correctly guessed the answer to one question before it was stated, earning the team additional points for his quick thinking.

“So, at least at the national level, a lot of times the questions will have a category set before the question,” Ford said. “For that specific question, it was ‘convicted presidential candidates’ or ‘jailed candidates.’ I knew that one could only be [former Indiana state Rep.] Eugene Debs, because he famously ran for president in 1920 after being imprisoned under the Sedition Espionage Act.”

For its recent success, the varsity team was invited to compete in the National Quiz Bowl in Atlanta on May 24 through May 26. Davidson said a Quiz Bowl requires more forward thinking than the knowledge bowl. Teams are required to answer as many questions as possible in a time limit and have to get more questions right than other teams during a round.

“We got invited because we’re the best academic team in Washington state,” Davidson said. “(We) don’t have a Quiz Bowl organization in Washington state, outside of the college level.”

The varsity team will compete against 18,000 to 22,000 students, by Davidson’s estimation. The team competed in the Quiz Bowl last year but did not make the playoffs. Ford said the students weren’t used to the unusual rule set, calling it a “trial by fire.” Ford is certain the team can make the playoffs this year.

“Having done that last year, but also just becoming very familiar with the flow of the game through online programs and studying materials, I think we’re all going to be way better off this year,” Ford said.

At press time, the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation offered to match $5,000 in donations to send the team to the Quiz Bowl. Davidson expects the team to need $10,000 to fund travel and hotels, meaning $5,000 in donations sent to the foundation would fund the trip. The amount donated to the foundation was unknown at press time.