Submitted photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 --><br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->In front from left are Bre Murphy, Nicki Ellingson, Grace Harmon, Matt Mendez, Autumn Bornholdt, Sammi Boyd, Gabe Solum and Harrison Speltz. In second row are Isaak Solum, Brady Schuttemeier, Samantha Bratland, coach Al Lochner and Elliott Cross. In back are Hank Hegge, Jack Benson and Keenan Siminski.
Submitted photo



In front from left are Bre Murphy, Nicki Ellingson, Grace Harmon, Matt Mendez, Autumn Bornholdt, Sammi Boyd, Gabe Solum and Harrison Speltz. In second row are Isaak Solum, Brady Schuttemeier, Samantha Bratland, coach Al Lochner and Elliott Cross. In back are Hank Hegge, Jack Benson and Keenan Siminski.
The Spring Grove High School Knowledge Bowl team reclaimed the conference championship in 2014. The Lions won three of the four conference competitions and placed second in the other. It ended the two-year title reign of Houston, which was runner-up this season.

The conference season begins in October and winds up in February followed by postseason playoffs in March and the state competition in April.

SG entered two teams (among about 50) in the postseason sub-region meet. SG Team I placed second with 100.5 points just behind Pine Island Team I at 102 and ahead of third place Pine Island Team II (95).

The top 12 teams at sub-region qualified for region. The Lions were disappointed to not fare as well at region where there was an unusual shuffling of placement. Against most of the same teams, SG slipped into a fifth-place tie at region.

Medford, which had just made the cut - placing 12th at sub-region, surprisingly won the region crown and advanced with second-place Pine Island to state.

In 22 years, the Lions have earned seven trips to state, the last in 2011. During the first few years, the small schools had to compete against the area's largest. Coach Al Lochner said SG did come close in those early years but did not get to state until Minnesota adopted the current two-class format in 1998.

Lochner said the 2014 squad was one of the best in recent years. The postseason roster for Team I included spokesperson Sammi Boyd and fellow seniors Autumn Bornholdt and Hank Hegge along with juniors Grace Harmon and Elliott Cross. Senior Jack Benson competed on Team I during some of the conference meets.

At sub-region, Benson was joined on Lion Team II by senior Nicki Ellingson along with juniors Matt Mendez and Keenan Siminski plus sophomore Brady Schuttemeier.

Other competitors this season included senior Isaak Solum, juniors Samantha Bratland and Harrison Speltz as well as sophomores Bre Murphy and Gabe Solum. Promising freshmen Noah Myrah and Devon Nerstad added depth.

Boyd concluded her esteemed career after three years as team spokesperson. This position somewhat equates to being team captain but is extraordinarily crucial at times.

During competition, each team has a spokesperson whose responsibility is to answer for the team. When the team members do not agree on an answer during oral rounds. the spokesperson - with added pressure of the time limit - must decide which will be the official answer.

Meets begin with a written round of 60 multiple choice questions. All five team members work together.

Five oral rounds of 45 questions each follow with three teams in each room. Results in your room matches you against teams with similar success in the next round. In the final round, the three most successful teams will be facing each other.

The team coaches are all very involved while administering the event. They are not with their own team unless the team and coach happen to appear in the same competition room for one of the oral rounds.

In each oral round, four scholars are on each team, all conferring. But to answer, it is much like some television quiz shows - a team has to buzz in before the other two squads. And then they must quickly attempt to agree on an answer.

Lochner said that element of speed is a major factor especially when experienced by scholars moving up from the junior high program to senior high competition.

He said Knowledge Bowl team members are most effective when they possess knowledge over a wide range of subjects.

But academic knowledge alone is not enough to be a championship caliber squad. Lochner noted there is great value in acquiring competitive skills and learning strategy - knowing how to play the game.

That acquisition for Lion students is decidedly enhanced under the tutelage of a veteran mentor. As a faculty member, Lochner launched the Spring Grove program 22 years ago and has guided its considerable success every season since. He relishes this role and plans to continue throughout the remainder of his professional career. That bodes well for future scholars who wish to add academic competition to their education at Spring Grove High School.