OLMSTED FALLS — It’s not often that you root for someone you may compete against, but that’s exactly what Jim Coury did, until he found himself buzzer-to-buzzer against an old rival.
During his second appearance on the Jeopardy College Tournament on Wednesday night, Coury squared off against Solon resident Nishanth Vli, a student at Washington University in St. Louis. Coury and Vli competed against each other in high school on their alma mater’s respective academic teams.
It may have given Coury an edge, he admits.
“I knew him, so I kinda knew what to expect,” said Coury, a sophomore at Georgetown University. “I was rooting for him during the first quarterfinal. He did really good.”
But not good enough against Coury, who dominated the buzzer and the categories.
He nearly cleared three categories during the first round, and when he answered his first of three Daily Doubles, he increased his winnings from $1,000 to $2,000.
Going into the first commercial break, Coury was in the lead by $4,000, and he never gave it up.
After clearing the board in round one, Jim led the other contestants by $4,600 going into Double Jeopardy.
And the categories just got better for him — “Novellas,” “Stuff About States,” “Science Guys,” “Techie Dropouts.”
He snagged his next Daily Double in the “Stuff About States” category. A risky wager paid off, bringing his winnings to $18,000.
The competition heated up after that with Vli answering more vigorously, but it wasn’t enough.
Coury found the last Daily Double in the “Novellas” category. Betting big, he increased his wallet to $29,000.
“His stage jitters were gone a bit,” Coury’s father, Michael Coury, said. “The whole buzzer thing — there was a learning curve.”
Coury admitted he was much more relaxed the second time around, and he felt “really good” about a number of the categories.
He was even able to give a shout out to Rhonna Smith, his coach on the Olmsted Falls High School Academic Team, during the show. Smith traveled with Coury and his family for the tapings.
“She really did help me get there,” Coury said after the show. “I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Going into Final Jeopardy, Coury had more than double his closest competitor with $32,600, and the category was Famous Europeans.
The answer: After moving to Argentina in 1949, this industrialist was named a righteous gentile by YadVashem.
Vli was confident, giving a nod to someone in the audience. Julia Sprangers, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, seemed to shake her head no. But it was difficult to tell whether Coury came up with the correct question.
Indeed he did. “Who is Schindler?”
While Vli bet nearly everything and came up with the correct answer, it wasn’t enough to overtake Coury, who bet just $4.
Coury will appear on Jeopardy for the semifinals at 7:30 tonight, and if he wins, he will be on again for the finals Friday night, possibly going home $100,000 richer.
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.