Some students came dressed to the nines. Others were more casually dressed, but donned shirts to match the rest of their teams.
Regardless of what they wore, all of the high school students in William and Mary's Sadler Center came with one goal in mind: to leave the 20th Annual Virginia High School League Scholastic Bowl Saturday with a trophy.
Preparing for the event takes months. Schools put together four-teams, and on the Saturday, those teams competed with each other by answering an array of questions from several categories.
English, math, science, and social studies are all concrete concrete categories. There are also miscellaneous categories, like arts and sports.
As the subject of the questions changed, schools shifted their lineups in an attempt to prepare accordingly.
Lisa Giles, the assistant director of the Virginia High School League, said that once athletics began to expand in Virginia, so did other extracurricular activities like the bowl.
At one point, it only took schools from 1A to 3A divisions. Now, public schools from 1A to 6A are eligible.
She said that's the biggest change to the bowl in her twelve years being involved in it. All public high schools can field a team now.
"That really was the catalyst, the state," she said. "Once the other sports opened up, the bowl followed."
A group from Jamestown High finished last of the four teams in the 4A division. New Kent finished last in the 3A division.
In their last match of the day, versus Loudoun County, students fielded questions on parabolic formulas, 19th-century poetry, Beethoven's catalog and more.
As he saw what was unfolding, coach Ryan Gross realized that his team was squandering chances to score more points by missing easy questions.
At the same time, Jamestown's Loudoun County competitor answered several consecutive questions and padded their lead.
"You really just can't miss math questions," Gross said during their last match of the day.
Loudoun County, won 300-90 over Jamestown and eventually took home the 4A championship.
Ethan Mackey, who goes to Cave Spring high School in Roanoke, was recognized as a top point earner of the day. The distinction means he answered questions quickly and correctly for his team, who are now state champions in the 3A division.
"I was nervous," he said. "But I knew we prepared well and I'm glad we won."
One team from each division took home a trophy. The league also recognized runners-up during an afternoon ceremony.
In addition to formally congratulating the newest state champions, VHSL's Giles recognized Virginia High School Hall of Fame member Don Darnton - a local arrangements coordinator with the Christopher Wren Association - for 17 consecutive years of helping out with the tournament.
Giles said the tournament is always a lot of work for the league but that on the day of the event, she enjoys seeing all that work finally come to fruition.
"I took over in year eight. It's part of my job duties, but it's also quite fun," Giles said. "There are always a lot of moving parts, but it's fun to see it all come together."
Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.