Caltech Trivia Team Returns to National Tournament After 14 Year Hiatus

On April 6, 2024, Caltech’s Quiz Bowl team competed at the National Academic Quizbowl Tournaments (NAQT) company’s Intercollegiate Championship Tournament (ICT). This was Caltech’s first time participating in the nationwide competition since it last qualified for ICT in 2010. Caltech competed, as it did last time, in Division II, the lower of the two divisions organized by NAQT. Caltech was represented at the ICT by Carlos Del Angel Aguilar (Chem., B.S. ‘24), Xander Koutsoukos (Geo., B.S. ‘24), Chase Blanchette (E.E., B.S. ‘23, M.S. ‘24), Alexis Herfurth (MechE., B.S. ‘26) and Justin Luo (C.S., B.S. ‘27). Caltech qualified for the ICT through its first-place finish in Division II at the prior sectional tournament hosted at USC in the fall.

Picture of Caltech’s Quiz Bowl team smiling at the camera; names listed below

Figure 1. Caltech’s ICT Team (from left to right: Chase, Eman, Carlos, Alexis, Justin, and Xander)

Quiz Bowl is an academic decathlon style competition where a team of four participants is tested on their knowledge of a broad swath of content in disciplines of academic interest. Quiz Bowl participants are expected to be well-versed in literature, history, world religions, philosophy, world mythology, the social sciences, fine arts (painting, architecture, photography, sculpture), classical music, jazz standards, university math and science, and even popular culture and sports.

Quiz Bowl members must be able to rapidly deduce for example, an author or historical battle, from very obscure to progressively more well-known information before the members of the other team. Getting the answer before the other team often comes down to seconds after hearing a key word in the question. Our all-around player, Chase, notes: “Nothing beats the feeling of recognizing something familiar in the first line of a question and nailing it with an early buzz, but I’d say making a lucky guess comes pretty close!” During rounds, team members can find answers to questions from surprising places. Our history specialist, Xander, was able to correctly answer “vocalise” from a clue about vowel-only singing exercises due to his experience in Caltech’s Glee Club.

Caltech’s team traveled to the Hyatt Regency hotel close to O’Hare Airport, where the competition was held. Caltech’s Quiz Bowl team would like to give a heartfelt thank you to Club President Trinity Lee (BioE., B.S. ‘25) for her incredible effort in organizing the team’s travel and financing of the event. Caltech Quiz Bowl would also like to thank Ankita Nandi and Jonathan Booker from ASCIT, as well as Miranda Huseth and Erica Crawford from OSE for their help in organizing the funding for Caltech’s trip. Finally, Caltech Quiz Bowl also greatly thanks Eman Elsheikh, a former member of the team, for making a detour on a trip to Chicago with her younger brother to come spectate and support the team.

Caltech was proud to place 14th out of 32 teams overall. Caltech advanced to a playoff bracket with a 4-3 record in preliminary rounds. During playoffs, Caltech finished with a 2-4 record for an overall 6-7 record. Regarding the team’s performance, Trinity reports: “This was the first time in a decade that Caltech qualified for the ICT, so the team really exceeded expectations! I’m super excited to see how we do next year and if we can keep up the momentum!”

Caltech Quiz Bowl is currently on a momentary pause due to the tournament, but is due to begin its typical Sunday morning practices soon. The team believes there may be former high school Quiz Bowl players who may be unaware of the team’s activity. We hope that this article reaches them, along with anyone else seeking to broaden their knowledge of the wider academic canon, and we invite them to join us in our Sunday morning practices. Please reach out to Trinity Lee ( for more information. We hope to see you at one of our practices soon!