Senior Brian Greeley was captain of Ramstein's winning academic games team.

Senior Brian Greeley was captain of Ramstein's winning academic games team. ()

OBERHAMBACH, Germany — Some of the brainest students in American military schools in Europe met minds last week in the 22nd annual DODDS-Europe Academic Games.

They faced some tough questions, such as: Which European country sold the CSS Alabama to the Confederacy? And, which division of the autonomic nervous system prepares the body for action by increasing the heart rate and slowing digestion?

Ramstein High School junior Chris Kieta recalled that Britain built the sloop-of-war Alabama for the South, and sophomore Ty Otto correctly identified the sympathetic nervous system as the body’s emergency ace-in-the-hole on Friday.

Because they did, Ramstein’s team emerged from the 22nd annual DODDS-Europe Academic Games with its second straight championship in the annual knowledge competition.

Known familiarly as the “Brain Bowl,” the Academic Games pit four-student panels against each other over two days of competition.

A moderator throws out a series of 40 questions randomly covering all academic fields during each game, and the first player to buzz in gets a chance to answer. If that player is wrong, the other team is given a chance at the question. Players may buzz in at any time while the question is being read, but an incorrect answer on an interruption results in a re-reading of the question for the other team.

Kieta’s and Otto’s answers on questions 39 and 40 of the championship match lifted Ramstein to a 145-140 victory over neighborhood rival Kaiserslautern American High School.

K-town had taken a 140-125 lead on question 38 by providing the term “pulp fiction” when read a description of the action or romance nature of the genre. That left Ramstein needing to respond first and correctly to each of the final two questions to avoid its first loss of the 2005 Games.

Ramstein team captain Brian Greeley, a senior, said the temptation to buzz in quickly must be resisted.

“You just have to hold back,” the former All-Europe linebacker said. “You’ve got to be sure.”

Friday’s come-from-behind victory kept Ramstein from having to compete in a winner-take-all “if-game” against Kaiserslautern. It also emphasized the tension players face in what the casual observer might imagine to be a mere question-and-answer session. Answer-sheet answers are frequently and vigorously challenged by coaches and players alike, and the pressure on individual players during games is often severe.

“I get just as nervous as I do for a football game,” said Greeley, who was voted co-MVP of the academic games along with SHAPE captain Steven Beckman.

Still, Greeley said, his team, which has lost just one game here in the last two years, felt good about its chances going into this year’s event, contested by 18 schools, including Iceland, Ankara, Alconbury and Sigonella.

“We were confident all the way,” he said.

Along with the sting of his team’s narrow loss, K-town coach Gerald Oyan will have to endure yet another year of dinner-table needling from his son, Eric, ironically the fourth member of Ramstein’s winning quartet on Friday and in 2004.

“I rode him all year last year,” the younger Oyan joked. “I don’t see any reason to stop.”

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