Pine River-Backus Knowledge Bowl team advances to state

The Pine River-Backus team took third place in a regional tournament.

PRB Knowledge Bowl team.jpg
Even before their recent wins, Pine River-Backus Knowledge Bowl made a splash at other competitions in the 2022 season.
Contributed / Olivia Anderson

PINE RIVER — The Pine River-Backus High School Knowledge Bowl team took third place at regional competition Monday, Feb. 28, earning one of four spots to the state tournament.

Seniors Daniel Irish (spokesperson), Liam Peterson and Randall Yost along with sophomores Olivia Anderson and Cash Kangas earned 87.5 points, behind two teams from Brainerd and edging out Bertha-Hewitt in a tough regional meet.

This will be only the second time PR-B has made a state appearance, the last being in 2013.

PR-B had faced Brainerd in two previous round robins and took second in both of those meets, Feb 3 and 16, earning 102.5 and 107. At the third round robin Feb. 24, PR-B scored 117 points to take first. The season’s positive improvement in each round robin led to a cautious optimism to earn a trip to the state tournament.

The regional competition day began with a written round score of 41, roughly in line with the season average and earning a sixth place position going into oral round one. In round one, PR-B faced off against Aitkin 1 and Little Falls 1. Aitkin had taken sixth in the third round robin, but in the round when they faced PR-B they scored eight points to PR-B’s 18.


Little Falls was an unknown team but had placed well in earlier round robins. It was a tough round as PR-B came out on top, earning 15 points to Little Falls' 13 and Aitkin's 8.

This victory moved PR-B into third place overall. In room one they faced both Brainerd teams in head-to-head competition. This was the low point of the meet for PR-B as they managed only 4 points to Brainerd 1’s 20 and Brainerd 2’s 14. This gave PR-B a total of 60 points and dropped them to 13th place.

Their low score in this round had them put at the bottom of the 60 point teams. However, a score of 60 was shared by all teams from eighth to 13th, and third place only had a total of 65, arguably within reach of many teams. With two oral rounds to go the ability to make it to state still remained.

Round 3 found PR-B facing Pierz 1 and Pequot Lakes 1. Pequot Lakes had been faced at earlier round robins, but Pierz was another unknown. Pierz had placed in the top three in all three of their round robins, promising tough competition. They proved it by earning 12 points to PR-B’s 10 with Pequot Lakes earning 3. PR-B was able to move up to 12th place.

In the final oral round, PR-B faced Pierz 1, who had advanced to 11th place, and Little Falls 1, who had 10th. Although in the lowest position in the room, PR-B was only four points out of third place.

In a testament to never quitting, PR-B was able to keep their energy up and earned 15 points to Little Falls' 8 and Pierz's 6. With a total of 85 points. PR-B was clearly in the running for a position at state, but in higher rooms good scores could keep them out of fourth place.

As PR-B had spent the first round in room two and second round in room one, they received 2.5 points for strength of schedule. This proved critical as Bertha-Hewitt ended the tournament with 85 points as well, but with only 1.5 SOS points ended with an 86.5 score and fourth place.

The state tournament will be April 7-8 at Cragun’s Resort, where Brainerd will be in the class AA division and Bertha-Hewitt and PR-B will represent the region in class A. Having earned a place in the top 24 teams in the state of Minnesota for their class, the team is excited to see where they will end up.


A showcase/send-off is planned from 6-8 p.m. April 5. The PR-B speech team, preparing for their own sectional tournament April 9, will present their speeches in two groups one section prior to a round of competition between PR-B faculty and the statebound team and a section of speeches with more mature content to follow. Awards and letters for students in both activities will be handed out at as well.

Isaak Anderson is the Pine River-Backus Knowledge Bowl coach.

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