INA – Call it the March Madness of the minds. It’s annual “College Bowl” tournament time and Rend Lake College is headed to state.
They haven’t been beaten this year, and after cruising through the Southern Illinois Collegiate Common Market (SICCM) finals unscathed – a 3-0 championship, March 5, at John A. Logan College – they are excited to take on some new talent at the state level.
Team member Bryan Carter, a freshman from Benton, has been participating on scholastic bowl teams since the seventh grade. This will be his first trip to state.
“In high school we only went to the regional meet once and sectionals once, so state is definitely going to be a new experience and I’m looking forward to it.”
The SICCM championship match, featuring John A. Logan versus Rend Lake, came down to the wire – a toss-up question for the championship.
“That’s pretty good stuff,” Carter said. “It was back and forth, like ping pong, the whole time.”
RLC hosted a meet on Feb. 20 which they won 3-0.
“The meets have been pretty spread out,” he explained. We’ve played Shawnee, Frontier College and Kaskaskia College this semester. They were all really well-balanced teams. Our biggest competition has been John A. [Logan].”
Each member brings his own strength to the team. Carter is a ‘jack of all trades,’ with interests ranging from pop culture to science. Cullen Bond of McLeansboro is strong in agriculture and business, Richard Pigg of DuQuoin is strong in computer science, Jim Dreas of Ashley is a round-a-bout player with skills in literature and Josh Bullock of Royalton likes the biology questions. Team Captain Alan Phelps of Mt. Vernon and Jon Stanhouse of Waltonville complete the group.
Coach Joe Ervin, an English instructor at RLC, took over this semester for former coach Steve Holman who moved from the area after accepting an administrative position on the east coast. He and Assistant Coach Sara Draper will be leading them to the state tournament which takes place the end of April at a college south of Chicago.
“It’s going to be teams from all across the state,” Ervin explained. “We will be representing our region, the southern region. John A., Shawnee and us are the three teams who compete in our region.”
He said the setup should be similar to how tournaments are held in the SICCM. Teams are paired up and the winners move on.
“It’s been pretty fun,” he said. “I’ve had a good time.”
“College scholar bowl is way more fun than high school,” Carter said. “A lot of the people I’ve met are definite keepers, friend-wise. They are really nice kids and Joe is a great coach and so is Sara.”
Carter and Ervin both say the nerdy scholar bowl stereotype may fit, but they don’t care.
“Pretty much that’s true,” said Carter. “But we have more fun.”
“It might be,” Ervin said. “But these nerds win.”