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by Mark Cheffey
Palmyra High School’s quiz bowl team is headed to state.
A familiar quartet of Evan Nierman, Tim Wellman, AJ Mahsman and Ji Ni will take on Lutheran South High School this Wednesday in the quarterfinals with the winner advancing to the state finals to be held on the campus of the University of Missouri-Columbia, May 7.
The four PHS seniors are also members of the school’s national championship floriculture team.
“This particular group of students is very special,” said Gretta Stark, the team’s sponsor. “They not only are academically inclined, but they also are humble.
“They are able to maintain the balance of when to step up and lead and when to allow others to do so.”
The team’s advancement to state came as the result of an exciting performance at the district level.
Start said the team advanced to the semi-finals round ranked fourth and beat top-ranked Orchard Farm, 440-170, after trailing 140-160 at half.
The team then beat second-ranked Mexico, 360-361 in overtime due to a final buzz in by Mahsman.
Due to their performance, Nierman and Wellman made the all-district team. Nierman was fifth all-district and Wellman, eighth.
The state run is also the culmination of a strong performance by the PHS Quiz Bowl program all season.
The varsity squad placed in the top five of each tournament it competed and won the Sullivan Tournament.
At the Mexico Tournament, the varsity placed second overall and junior varsity team placed fifth overall.
The varsity’s performance earned the team multiple invitations to the National Small School Championship Tournament to take place over the summer in Atlanta, Ga.
In conference, both teams went undefeated and placed first in their respective brackets.
On the JV side, Elizabeth Salo won all-conference JV captain, Faedre Lehenbauer got seventh place all-conference JV, and Dakota Snyder fifth place second team all-conference JV.
Nierman, Wellman and Ji Ni placed third, sixth and seventh, respectively, all-conference varsity, and Mahsman earned seventh place, second team all-conference varsity honors.
Stark said each member of the varsity team is able to bring different talents to the table.
“I have nothing but respect for these four students and know that their knowledge and abilities will be used to benefit any community that is fortunate enough to have them as a member,” Stark said.
Wellman, the captain, isn’t always the highest scorer, but Stark said he is able to keep the team focused, takes direction well, and inspires his teammates to perform at a high level.
“His attitude and leadership ability have an effect not only on the varsity but also on the JV,” Stark said. “His example will be followed even when he is gone.”
Stark said Nierman, the second man on the team, has the ability to recall information ranging from fine arts to natural sciences that is second to no one.
“He is always willing to take on new topics and consistently ranks as a high scorer in tournaments,”
Stark said. “His calm attitude adds to the teams ability to perform at high levels, even when they are behind or needed a clutch performance.
Stark said Ji Ni “constantly surprises everyone” with his random knowledge and math calculation ability.
“Multiple times he has come through with obscure answers that left not only the opposing team in awe, but our own team as well,”
Mahsman is considered to be the dark horse on the team.
“His ability to remain calm and buzz in quickly has won numerous matches and also pulled out a close win,” Stark said. “