This is the first in a new series of monthly interviews with different individuals in the Pennsylvania quizbowl community. Our goal is to represent a variety of quizbowl experiences around the state.
Sahil Inaganti (SI) is currently a junior at Parkland High School in Allentown. He began playing good quizbowl last year and led his team to win the Novice division of the 2017 Wissahickon Invitational.
This interview was conducted over the summer and has been edited for length and clarity.
JW: How did you first discover quizbowl?
SI: The Lehigh Valley has a TV show where high schools go head to head in academic competition, which I actually discovered in middle school. That was something that I knew I wanted to do, so when I got to high school, I joined our Scholastic Scrimmage club. Along with the TV show, our athletic conference also runs its own academic league. I was chosen as JV captain freshman year, and we did what you might refer to as “bad quizbowl.” We played a couple of those weird national competitions that Questions Unlimited puts out. My first experience with good quizbowl was this year, when we were invited to the Lehigh Valley Invitational. I was kind of blown away because I was used to playing all these bad questions where I could easily get them, which were just buzzer races most of the time. Then from there, I was forwarded an email to try out for NASAT—I was a bit confused on how they figured out that I would be eligible, so I looked up Lehigh Valley Invitational and found the NAQT stats, and then I started to understand more about how actual good quizbowl works. I signed up for a couple different tournaments, like Wissahickon. And in between, I started figuring out what Protobowl was, so in study hall I’d just play that.
JW: Are there any other major differences that you’ve noticed between Scholastic Scrimmage or your other local format and Saturday tournaments?
SI: I think the caliber of teams is definitely different. This year we made it all the way to our athletic conference finals and just blew all the other teams away, but going into the Lehigh Valley Invitational, I was not used to playing that new caliber of teams. I think we went like 2-3 [in the prelims], whereas, in our academic league in the Lehigh Valley, we’re used to blowing away teams with scores like 200 or 300, to like 60.
JW: Have you found that quizbowl has helped you in any way as a student?
SI: I’d say yes, because I guess I pay more attention in classes like AP US History. Even if it’s boring, when I know that I have the US History Bowl I’m going to, I think maybe I should start paying attention to this. It’s that motivation that the knowledge I’m getting in school can really transfer over to quizbowl, that really motivates me to pay more attention and work harder in school.
JW: Is there any advice you’d give to someone who’s new to playing pyramidal tournaments?
SI: Just don’t get overwhelmed. A lot of people, they get overwhelmed and think “I’ll never be as good as people I’m playing at the weekend tournaments,” but it’s not as hard as you think it is, to get good at quizbowl. Maybe a couple hours here and there, a couple minutes playing Protobowl on your free time, and you can jump 30, 40 points ahead.
JW: Lastly, do you have any goals for you and your team in the upcoming season?
SI: I definitely want to go to more weekend tournaments this year. It was just me and my brother going to Wissahickon and just getting one friend to go last year. We actually went to NAC this past year, instead of going to any of the real good competitions. But this year, some of my friends are also motivated to go with us, so definitely more weekend tournaments. We’re looking to host our own invitational sometime, so I’ve emailed NAQT about that. And, I guess, just get better and better, that’s it.
Thank you to Sahil for participating in this interview!