Jeopardy! Showdown

Game show champion challenges Quiz Bowl students at his alma mater
Posted on 02/29/2024
Huntington North Quiz Bowl Coach John Petrovich

The Huntington North High School Quiz Bowl team will compete in the Indiana Association of School Principals Quiz Bowl State Finals on Saturday. The Vikings have had success this season, compiling a record of 40-20, with four tournament wins.

But knowing the importance of the team’s upcoming event, coach John Petrovich wanted to step up the level of competition.

Enter 2010 HNHS graduate and recent Jeopardy! Champions Wildcard Tournament runner-up Jesse Matheny.

“I knew that he was from Huntington. I knew that he lived nearby, and he’s been having such great success on Jeopardy! this year,” Petrovich said. “My kids have had a really excellent season and needed a little bit of a challenge, so I figured why not ask him?”

Matheny first appeared on Jeopardy! in April of 2023. He won his first show but fell on his second night.

Despite becoming a Jeopardy! champion, Matheny was disappointed with the outcome of his initial appearances on the game show. He was thrilled to get a call back for this year’s Champions Wildcard Tournament.

“It meant everything. Last year, I did win a game. I lost my second game, and I just didn’t feel like I was able to show what I was capable of,” Matheny said of getting to return to the Alex Trebek Stage. “Getting the invite to go back, there was no pressure this time. Everybody was loose and having fun. I felt like I was able to kind of show what I was capable of doing.”

Matheny had a better showing in his most recent run, finishing as runner-up in the tournament.  But it was the most recent run when Mr. Petrovich had the idea to challenge his students with a special guest competitor.

“It was honestly very surprising to me to hear that we had a hometown champion of [Jeopardy!] here. I never expected that,” said HNHS Quiz Bowl member Nicholis Dolby. “And to actually be playing against him, that was for me that was just kind of amazing. I never expected that. I wasn’t certain what his knowledge would be like compared to ours.”

The Huntington North teachers team, featuring Matheny, defeated the student team 340-165 in the first round of toss-ups, but the students rebounded to defeat the teachers in the second round, 205-175.

“It was a fun experience,” HNHS Quiz Bowl member Zane Vatter said of going against a Jeopardy! Champion.

The HNHS Quiz Bowl Team enters Saturday’s state championship as the ninth seed. Good luck, Vikings!

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