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Queens Chronicle

York looks to ‘Bowl’ over its competition

College quartet heading to California for national student quiz tournament

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:28 am, Thu Apr 17, 2014.

Four York College students are headed out to California on Saturday to represent the school in the 25th annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge.

The quiz competition, run by College Bowl Co., features teams from historically black colleges and universities vying for a $50,000 grand prize for their school.

It is sponsored by the American Honda Motor Co., and the finals take place on the automaker’s Torrence, Calif. campus.

“It’s kind of ‘Jeopardy’ and ‘Family Feud,’” said Tess Mercer of Bayside, a junior at the school who is majoring in occupational therapy.

Her teammates are junior Kim Barnes of Maspeth, studying medical technology; senior Philip Alerte of Jamaica, majoring in health promotion management; and Swatanter Polce of New Hyde Park in Nassau County, majoring in political science and minoring in international relations.

“They work hard,” said their coach, Erzulie Mars, who is an executive assistant at the college. “They have to come to practice and study between classes. And sometimes I even give them homework.”

Like “Jeopardy” and the old “College Bowl” television series, the show poses questions that test both the students’ general knowledge and their reflexes for signaling to answer a question before the students from an opposing school.

Questions on black history and culture have a prominent role.

Like any good team, the four have individual and overlapping areas of expertise.

Polce is the go-to person for biology, while Alerte is more at home with sports and pop culture. Barnes is likely to ring in on history and geography, while Mercer is gearing up for history, science and pop culture.

And yes, all four harbor dreams of getting and passing “Jeopardy” auditions.

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