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IHS Brain Team Looks to Repeat Success

IHS Brain TeamIthaca High School’s Brain Team is on track to excel again this year after a successful 2016-17 season that saw members rank as high as third in the nation.
Throughout the year, the quiz bowl team’s 30 members compete in tournaments where four-person squads answer questions on subjects like philosophy, mythology, math, literature, fine arts, science, current events, and pop culture.

“Each person has a specialized knowledge area,” said Isaiah Gutman, one of four juniors on the team’s A squad who has already qualified to represent Brain Team at two national tournaments in the spring.

Gutman, Vaynu Kadiyali, Julian Perry and Justin Tan were recently victorious at the BrainBusters Fall Tournament held at IHS, coming out on top of 35 teams from 22 schools. Team members also performed well at the recent Western New York National History Bee and Bowl Tournament, taking first and second in the varsity bee, first in the JV bee, and first overall in bowl tournament matches.

Success in quiz bowl requires speed and strategy as well as knowledge. In tournament action, participants race to answer “toss-up” questions, with the potential to earn more points through bonus questions.

“I like the opportunity to showcase my knowledge,” Kadiyali said. “I’m not really athletic, so it’s an opportunity for me to be really competitive.”
Last year, the Brain Team’s top squad ranked as high as third nationwide and placed eighth in national competition, said Benjamin Kirk, the team’s coach and math teacher at IHS. The seniors on the team have since moved on to colleges like Cornell, Georgetown and the California Institute of Technology.

The 2016-17 team “was probably the best team we’ve ever had,” Kirk said. “This year’s team have stepped into some big shoes, but they’re doing a great job filling them.”
Several members of this year’s team are freshmen who “have a lot of fun and have been getting good experience,” Kirk said. A recently started middle school team allows students to get involved even earlier.

Perry said participating in Brain Team helps him with learning during the school day. “It’s incentive to learn more than what’s on the test in class,” he said.

Want to learn more about Brain Team or follow their season? Check out @IHSBrainTeam on Twitter where members post quiz bowl facts and play-by-play tournament updates.

Belle Sherman
Beverly J Martin
Cayuga Heights
Fall Creek
South Hill
Boynton Middle
DeWitt Middle
Ithaca HS
Lehman Alternative


Ithaca City School District
Dr. Luvelle Brown, Superintendent
400 Lake Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 274-2101