After the 24th question, the four members of Trinity Lutheran High School’s interdisciplinary team knew they were state champions.
Seniors Rachel Onken, Abby Moses and Emily Thompson and junior Nathaniel Bauman had correctly answered 17 questions.
Going into the 25th and final question, there was no way for another team in Class 4 to score higher.
It was right up Onken’s alley since she also was a member of this year’s math Academic Super Bowl team.
“It was only icing on the cake to get that last question right, and when we did, we all high-fived each other,” Onken said. “It was a great way for Abby, Emily and I to end our Academic Super Bowl careers.”
Trinity had an Indiana Academic Super Bowl team place first for the third year in a row. The foursome scored 18 for the win, while Trinity’s interdisciplinary team in 2016 scored 13, and last year’s English team won with 18.
Bauman, Onken and Moses also were a part of the interdisciplinary team in 2016, and Bauman was on the 2017 English team.
Interdisciplinary brings together members of the fine arts, English, math, science and social studies teams.
Trinity had three other teams competing in Saturday’s state finals at Purdue University’s Loeb Playhouse in West Lafayette. Fine arts scored 19 and tied for runner-up in Class 4, while social studies scored 14 and science scored 19, both placing fourth.
Of the 278 high school teams that participated in an area competition April 17, only 92 qualified for the state finals. Trinity was one of 18 to earn the title of state champion. This year’s theme was World War I.
Since November, each of Trinity’s Academic Super Bowl teams had practiced at least once a week.
The interdisciplinary team, however, never worked together until the day of a competition, Onken said.
“We each separately study the materials on our own subjects and come together at the competition to answer the questions,” she said. “I know we all did lots of studying for the competition, and it clearly paid off.”
Onken answered science and math questions, Moses helped with the fine arts and science questions and Thompson and Bauman worked together on English and social studies questions.
“In order to prepare for the state competition, we reviewed our completed packets, read over our poems and books and tried to shove as much information into our heads as possible,” Thompson said. “All of our studying paid off at (area), and we wanted to again bring that refreshed knowledge to the table.”
As the state finals arrived, there was a mix of emotions.
“Going into the competition, I was a little nervous but generally confident in our abilities as a team,” Bauman said. “I was happy with getting fourth place in history, although I was hoping for a little more, of course. Still, I am proud of both our history and English teams.”
Onken said she knew the interdisciplinary team had a strong chance of winning a state title.
“I felt confident that we would do well and perform to the best of our abilities,” she said.
Making it to the state finals put Thompson “over the moon,” she said.
“I was ready to sit down with my friends, put our heads together and win our school another title,” she said. “Of course, there was also an inevitable bit of nervousness, too. I had faith in my other team members, but what if I made a mistake?”
During the final round, the team came together and clinched the state title.
“I think we did a great job of allowing each person to take charge of his or her own subject or subjects and letting that person make the correct decision without distraction or extra pressure,” Bauman said. “We also congratulated each other when we got a question right and comforted each other when we got a question wrong.”
The encouragement helped, Onken said.
“If someone felt unsure about their answer, the other teammates would tell them to trust their gut and assure them that it was going to be fine,” she said. “As it turned out, almost everyone’s ‘guts’ were right, so the phrase started to ease our nerves.”
Reassurance was important, too, Thompson said.
“We voiced our opinions as a way to correct each other’s wrongs,” she said. “Knowing that Nathaniel had my back for history and English questions was a great relief. We also did a good job giving each other space. Rachel would scribble down a problem and have 20 seconds to solve it. For our team, that was 20 seconds of reverent silence. She needed her concentration just like we needed ours when we worked out a question.”
When the final question was answered, the team celebrated.
“After winning state, we were ecstatic. That victory meant that the hours of studying over many months were worth it, and it all paid off in the end,” Bauman said.
“We were all grinning from ear to ear like complete fools, 100 percent proud of every person at our table,” Thompson said. “We had worked hard for five months, early mornings and late afternoons, to reach that point, and once we got there, it was truly a happiness like no other. I wanted to jump up and dance.”
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For a complete list of Indiana Academic Super Bowl state finals results, visit iasp.org/results/SeniorSuperStateResults.html.