Wildlife Biology program defeats reigning champions

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Story by Cody HallContributing writer

The Wildlife Biology and Conservation Biology program defeated the University of Georgia, which has won 14 times since 1988, at this year’s Southeastern Wildlife Conclave.

The Southeastern Wildlife Conclave was held at Eastern Kentucky in March. It is an annual competition in which schools compete in wildlife biology-based events.  Murray State won Quiz Bowl – the most academic and prestigious events of the competition because of its quick recall format.     

This is the third time that Murray State has won this competition since 1988. The Racers defeated 23 different schools and placed in other event that were held at the conclave.

The Murray State Quiz Bowl team is composed of five students: Jason Matthews, junior from Louisville; Christy Soldo, senior from Hopkinsville; Melanie Torres, graduate student from Easton, Connecticut; Miranda Thompson, senior from Louisville; and Nathan Tillotson, junior from Paducah.

“We practiced a lot, we had the knowledge, and we had more strategy than previous years,” Thompson said.  “We practiced once a week since the beginning of the semester, and had a Canvas class that we could use to practice outside the meetings.”

Thompson said the team that went to the conclave this year was an experienced one, with members who had gone to this event for years and decided this was the year they were going to win the Quiz Bowl.

Murray State brought a team of 22 students to compete in the different events, including miscellaneous animal calls, dendrology and a two-mile-long obstacle course.

“Most of these teams in the Southeastern region, they are ready, you have to beat them,” said Joe Caudell, wildlife biology professor.  “They studied more, they practiced a lot and some of these students even had a chance to compete in the national competition two years ago.”

Caudell came from the University of Georgia to Murray State, and said it was a good feeling to take the Murray State team into the competition to beat the University of Georgia.  He said Murray State always places well at the Quiz Bowl event, usually in the single digits.

“And the Murray State team has a good shot at winning nationals, too, because this is one of the first times that the same team that won regionals will be going to the nationals,” said Steve White, former adviser for the wildlife biology program. “This is equivalent to winning the SCC, and they already beat the biggest threat in the nation.”

Howard Whiteman, wildlife biology professor, said exams are not always all of what students know.

 “There were questions they had that I don’t know, and I marveled in that fact that they answered them,” Whiteman said.

Whiteman said this is something that is going to stay with the students forever, similar to if a football player won a major game.  Winning the Southeastern Conclave in some cases is even more important than winning the national event.