Muller Road Middle School Quiz Whiz Team Shines

Joshua and Austin Meisner, David Fair and Andreu Maynard relax between rounds during the annual Quiz Whiz competition in February.

BLYTHEWOOD – Muller Road Middle School brought home the bronze last month at the 2018 academic Quiz Whiz held in Richland Two’s R2i2 facility – a remarkable feat for the smallest of the teams participating, and two of those team members had no previous experience in the competition.  And, because of scheduling circumstances, the team didn’t have a chance to actually practice all together before the competition, much less meet each other.

While placement was determined by the number of matches won, the Muller Road team finished with the second highest number of correct answers, behind the four-time winner and Quiz Whiz powerhouse, Dent Middle School, which boasted 11 team members including seven stand-ins to answer questions on different subjects.

It was an excellent showing for the Muller Road team, and the first time the school has placed in the competition – ever – the school’s principal, Sean Bishton, said with obvious pride.

“They did exceptionally well,” Bishton said, praising the team. “We’re really, really proud of them.”

For the team, the annual district-wide competition for middle-schoolers delivered all the excitement and suspense of a TV game show: bright lights, a packed audience and the fast-paced pressure of racing to hit the buzzer and produce correct answers on the spot.

Eighth-grade twins Austin and Joshua Meisner and seventh-graders David Fair and Andreu Maynard were nominated for the team’s four spots by classroom teachers who felt they would do well.

“I was sort of surprised [about being asked],” Fair said. “The day leading up to it, I was pretty excited because I never went to one before. When I got there, is when I met my teammates. At first we didn’t really talk much, just due to not knowing each other. But then, after our first round – I think we won it – we started to talk more, and we practiced questions together when we were in the break room,” he said.

“We didn’t have [time for] much practice beforehand,” Austin Meisner said of himself and his twin.

“Life was hectic at the time,” Joshua Meisner added. “[Austin and I] had a lot of makeup work from being out sick for two weeks, plus extracurricular activities like soccer, and I had Regional band. But we were asked, and we wanted to represent our school. So we decided to go.”

Maynard talked about the competition’s exhilarating atmosphere.

“We were broadcast on huge screens in the hall – we had microphones and everything!” he said. “I was kind of nervous, because you don’t know how the match is going to go. We’d miss a question and then everyone just kind of crashed. And it took getting a question right to build our confidence back up again. It was an emotional rollercoaster.”

“I think the Meisner twins were the best at the buzzer,” said Fair.

The twins were fast, often slamming the buzzer in the same instant and calling out the correct answer in unison. Only one person is supposed to answer at a time and, in the exuberance of the moment, the twins weren’t always sure who hit the buzzer first.

“One of the moderators commented that we were answering in stereo. We were warned not to do that… even if we did think alike!” Joshua Meisner recalled. “But we didn’t get docked for it.”

“I was nervous,” said Austin Meisner, “but less so because my brother was with me.”

It was a sentiment shared among the teammates.

“Probably my favorite part of it was getting along with the team,” Fair said. “During the questions, I got really tense, just due to not being used to going in front of everybody. But once I got along with the team I just felt more in place, basically.”

While the Muller Road team didn’t have the benefit of stand-ins with knowledge in different subject areas like the larger teams, each of the Muller Road team members brought individual strengths based on their own backgrounds in reading and general interests.

“The Meisner twins were good all around,” Fair said. “Andreu’s got more pop culture knowledge and is good at math. The thing I’d say I was really helpful in was history.”

Still, the larger teams had the advantage of switching in fresh teammates mid-round.

“I noticed on some of the other teams, one person would hit the buzzer for one subject, and another person would for another subject. They were really organized, if you ask me,” Fair said.

Dent, home to the highly touted magnet program, The Learning Collaborative (TLC), known for serving high-achieving and highly motivated students, was especially intimidating.

“Dent students are like the superstars,” Bishton said. “They’re just exceptionally strong. So this year, hearing our students say things like, ‘we were really competitive against Dent’ – that’s good, because they’re reflecting on their performance and their confidence is growing. They’re growing as students and also as competitors. Experiences like this help them later on.”

“It was a great learning experience,” Austin Meisner agreed.

“I would like to try again next year,” Fair said. “It was really fun.”

“With confidence, they really shine, and that’s what we want,” Bishton said. “That’s the kind of spirit we try and create at Muller Road Middle.”

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