By Don Nelson
A year ago, the Liberty Bell High School Knowledge Bowl team was primed to defend the state 2B championship it won in 2019.
Then came COVID.
Instead of traveling to Yakima for another shot at the state title, the Mountain Lions stayed home, as did all the other Knowledge Bowl teams around the state.
It’s been like that since. Again this year, the state Knowledge Bowl tournament was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.
However, the Liberty Bell team did see competition in the 2020-21 season.
Coach Leverett Hubbard said the season was truncated to six matches, all of them conducted online using various platforms, as opposed to the usual eight matches leading to the state tournament.
Leverett said that Knowledge Bowl coordinators around the north central Washington region discussed having a regular season last fall. It wasn’t to be.
“The regional organizer and coaches decided to have an informal season,” Hubbard said. “Matches were to be held based on a combination of Zoom, Discord, and Kahoot! computer platforms.”
Returning Liberty Bell veterans including senior captain Lindsay Worrell and juniors Alex Eslava, Per Dillingham and Sophia Newton began practicing in November with no idea of what the regular season would look like, Hubbard said. “Practice consisted of weekly Zoom meetings,” he said.
“The technical technological hurdles caused many of the area schools not to participate,” Hubbard said. “The 19 regional schools that typically compete in a season was cut in half to just eight schools – Moses Lake, Wenatchee, Chelan, Okanogan, Cashmere, Cascade and Pateros [in addition to Liberty Bell].”
Here’s a roundup of the Liberty Bell season:
• The first match of the season was hosted, virtually, in Wenatchee on Jan. 6. Seven schools participated with a total of 11 teams (schools can have more than one team in competition). More than 70 students competed, and teams were awarded points based on how the individuals did. Liberty Bell placed sixth out of the 11 teams.
• The next match was hosted by Okanogan. Seven schools participated with 11 teams. Liberty Bell placed fourth.
• The third match was on Feb. 1, hosted by the Cascade School District. Seven schools participated with 11 teams. Liberty Bell took fourth place.
• On Feb. 17, Chelan hosted a tournament. Liberty Bell again placed fourth out of seven schools, with nine teams present.
• On Feb. 22, Cashmere hosted a match for six schools, with nine teams competing. Liberty Bell was without its star performer, Per Dillingham, and placed sixth out of the nine teams.
• The final match was hosted by Moses Lake on March 3. Seven schools competed with first-time appearances by two schools outside the north central region. Davis High School in Yakima and Ellensburg High School participated. Liberty Bell placed sixth out of the nine teams.
Prior to last year, Liberty Bell had finished either first or second in the previous four Knowledge Bowl state meets, and had finished in the top 10 seven out of the previous eight years.