University of Illinois Lab

From QBWiki
(Redirected from University Lab)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
University Laboratory High School
Urbana, IL
Coaches Kaila Simpson
State Championships IHSA: 2015 (A), 2019 (AA), 2022 (A), 2023 (A)
NAQT: 2018, 2020
Masonic: 2018 (2A), 2019 (2A), 2020 (2A), 2022 (3A)
National Appearances MSNCT: 2018
HSNCT: 2014-2015, 2018-2019, 2021-2024
SSNCT: 2018
NSC: 2016-2017, 2019, 2021-2024
Program Status Active
School Size 320 students
NAQT Page link
Not to be confused with Normal University High School or University of Chicago Laboratory School.

University of Illinois Laboratory High School, commonly known as "Uni" or "Uni Lab", is a public, selective-admissions high school on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana. Uni was the runner up at both the 2019 and 2021 HSNCTs and placed third at the 2019 PACE NSC. The team was coached by Chris Butler from 2012 to his retirement in 2021 and is now coached by Kaila Simpson. Since 2017, Uni has been one of the strongest teams in Illinois and possibly the strongest team south of the Chicago metro area.


The Uni High Scholastic Bowl team was founded in 2012 as the school trivia club and initially did not compete in tournaments. The team made its official quizbowl debut the following year, where they scored -5 points against IMSA in their very first game. Despite placing 30th out of 40 teams at the 2013 NAQT State Championship, they qualified for the 2014 and 2015 HSNCTs via other means and placed 201st and 145th respectively. In 2015, Uni won the Class A IHSA State Championship after a narrow victory against Peoria Christian. The following season, the IHSA moved Uni to the large school division for scholastic bowl (Class AA) despite Uni having only 250 students in its high school enrollment, due to IHSA's "success factor" policies for selective-admissions schools without set attendance zones. Under captain Andrew Stelzer, they placed second at the 2017 class AA IHSA tournament after defeating Rockford Auburn and Oak Park-River Forest in the preliminaries, then losing to IMSA in the final. At the NAQT State Championships, Uni placed 11th in 2016 and 9th in 2017.


Uni largely went unnoticed until the team's strength began to grow in 2018, when they became recognized as a state title contender in Illinois and a top-50 team nationwide. While defending champion, Stevenson, was absent due to bad weather, the A team comprised of Tim Cho, Ethan Ashbrook, Dylan Bowman, and Jonathan Lau won the 2018 NAQT Illinois State Championship by narrowly defeating Rockford Auburn, becoming the first school from Downstate Illinois to win the event and the smallest ever school to win a large school or open division tournament in Illinois. Uni also became the first team to win the championship with all four starters posting over 20 PP20TUH. The following month, Uni clinched a first-place win over Latin in the Class AA Masonic tournament after losing to them in the finals of the previous two Class AA Masonic championships. Uni placed 5th at the 2018 SSNCT and 51st at the 2018 HSNCT. That same year, their middle school team also placed T31st at the 2018 MSNCT.

In 2018, Uni decided to attend tournaments in the Chicago Metro Area to play against tougher competition, winning the 2018 New Trier Varsity Tournament where they defeated Detroit Catholic Central for the first time. At the 2019 NAQT Illinois State Championship, Uni placed third after losses to Auburn and Stevenson, then won the 2019 Masonic tournament for the second time. At the 2019 IHSA State Championship, Uni won their first ever Class AA title after winning the championship match on a tiebreaker question against Rockford Auburn. Later, at the 2019 HSNCT, Uni went 8–2 in the preliminary rounds, then went on an undefeated streak in the playoffs before falling to Beavercreek in both the winners bracket final and the championship match. At the 2019 NSC, the team placed third overall after losing to eventual champion Thomas Jefferson and runner-up Katy Taylor, then defeating Montgomery Blair in the third-place game.

Despite the loss of top history player Tim Cho to graduation, many people in the quizbowl community named Uni as the favorites to win the 2020 national season due to the impressive depth and generalism of Ethan Ashbrook and Dylan Bowman. During the 2019-20 season, Uni played without a full team at most tournaments, but still managed to secure several victories against top teams at tournaments such as Earlybird and WUFAT. At the 2019 Reinstein Varsity, Uni placed fourth after losses to Chattahoochee, Miami Valley, and Stevenson. In the 2020 NAQT Illinois State Championship, Uni won a second title after defeating Stevenson twice in a disadvantaged final. In March, Uni placed first at the Masonic State Championship for the third consecutive time, then won their 5th consecutive IHSA regional title. With the cancellation of the remainder of the IHSA State Series, HSNCT and PACE shortly afterward due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team's 2020 season came to an abrupt end.


In the 2020-21 preseason poll, Uni was ranked 26th overall, but omitted from many ballots. However, the A team ranked in the top 10-20 teams nationwide throughout the 2020-21 season due to significant improvement by Lawrence Zhao, Arjun Kala, and Janaki Kapadia who had moved up from the previous year's B team. At the 2021 HSNCT, the team went undefeated in playoffs before falling to Barrington in two games of an advantaged final. At the 2021 PACE NSC, the team placed 16th after taking losses to Greenhill, Hunter, and Belmont.

Following the departure of senior Jonathan Lau and longtime coach Chris Butler, the team continued to be one of the strongest in the state. At the 2022 NAQT Illinois State Championship, the A team tied for 5th place, and won both the IHSA Class A and Masonic Class 3A state championships. The team went on to place T39th at the 2022 HSNCT and 20th at the 2022 PACE NSC. In the 2023 season, the team continued to perform at a high level despite the loss of science specialist Lawrence Zhao to graduation, winning their fourth IHSA State title in eight years. The team later placed 21st at HSNCT and 11th at PACE. The loss of top scorer Arjun Kala in the following 2024 season was quickly made up for by continued improvement from seniors Shreyas Singh and Shawn Syed. At the 2024 PACE NSC, the team would place 8th despite the absence of Shreyas, making the top bracket for the first time since the historic 2019 season.

National Results

  • 2014 HSNCT: 211th/272
  • 2015 HSNCT: 145th/272
  • 2016 NSC: 62nd/96
  • 2017 NSC: 51st/96
  • 2018 SSNCT 5th/64 (Open Division)
  • 2018 HSNCT: 51st/352
  • 2019 HSNCT: 2nd/336
  • 2019 NSC: 3rd/96
  • 2021 HSNCT: 2nd/224
  • 2021 NSC: 16th/80
  • 2022 HSNCT: 39th/272
  • 2022 NSC: 20th/72
  • 2023 HSNCT: 21st/304
  • 2023 NSC: 11th/72
  • 2024 HSNCT: 49th/320
  • 2024 NSC: 8th/72

All-State Honorees

  • 2017 Class A Second Team: Andrew Stelzer
  • 2018 Class AA First Team: Tim Cho
  • 2019 Class AA First Team: Ethan Ashbrook, Dylan Bowman, Tim Cho
  • 2020 Class AA First Team: Ethan Ashbrook, Dylan Bowman, Jonathan Lau
  • 2022 Class A First Team: Arjun Kala, Lawrence Zhao
  • 2022 Class A Second Team: Janaki Kapadia
  • 2023 Class A First Team: Arjun Kala, Shreyas Singh

Players for Team Illinois

  • 2018 Illinois B (T-13): Ethan Ashbrook
  • 2019 Illinois A (1st): Ethan Ashbrook
  • 2019 Illinois B (5th): Dylan Bowman, Tim Cho, Jonathan Lau
  • 2020 Illinois A (cancelled): Ethan Ashbrook, Dylan Bowman, Jonathan Lau
  • 2021 Illinois B (11th): Lawrence Zhao
  • 2023 Illinois B (T-3): Shreyas Singh

External Links

NAQT Illinois State Champion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Rockford Auburn
Cancelled due to COVID-19
IHSA Class 1A State Champion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Chicago Christian
2022, 23
Metro-East Lutheran
IHSA Class 2A State Champion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Cancelled due to COVID-19
Illinois Masonic State Tournament Class 2A Champion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Latin School
2018, 2019, 2020
Illinois Masonic State Tournament Class 3A Champion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Cancelled due to COVID-19