May 13, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 16

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    [carolyn cracraft] by jason smith
    Carolyn Cracraft, a third-year student in Near Eastern Languages
    & Civilizations, maintains her place in the final rounds of the
    Jeopardy! college tournament games.

    Cracraft anticipates a win as final rounds of college Jeopardy! approach

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Answer: Third-year Carolyn Cracraft. Question: Who is the person most likely to conquer the national Jeopardy! College Tournament? Last week, Cracraft defeated students from Reed College and the University of Pennsylvania to become a semifinalist on the path to Jeopardy! student extraordinaire.

    While Chicago’s Rhodes, Marshall and Truman scholars spent months completing applications and rigorous interviews, Cracraft will have just 30 grueling minutes to determine her Jeopardy! fate. Faculty and fellow students who want to see if Cracraft defeats the competition can watch her in action during the final rounds at 3:30 p.m. today and Friday, May 14, on ABC Channel 7.

    Answer: The studio audience, Cracraft and the Jeopardy! judges. Question: Who knows if Cracraft will win a $25,000 cash prize, a Volvo C70 convertible and a $25,000 gift for the University from Volvo.

    The two-week competition was actually taped in just two days at Chicago’s Rosemont Theater. “I was lucky because my show taped first, so I got to relax the rest of the day,” said Cracraft.

    Lucky, maybe. Cracraft’s first game did not run smoothly. Halfway through the second round, known as Double Jeopardy!, an opponent’s buzzer stopped working––only the second time in the history of the show. “We had to wait for an hour while they fixed the technical glitch,” Cracraft said. Unfortunately, her healthy lead was taken away when the judges decided to redo the entire round. “I was disappointed, but I understood,” she said. Nonetheless, Cracraft won in the final round, which assured her a place in the finals.

    Cracraft was selected to compete from more than 2,000 College students when Jeopardy! auditions were held on campus earlier this spring. Judges said they were looking for students who knew all the answers (or questions, if you will) and who had fun playing the game. “We look for people who know the answers and who have a competitive energy as they play the game,” said Susanne Thurber, contestant coordinator. She thought Cracraft had both.

    The Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations major is learning how to read hieroglyphs and Middle Egyptian literary, historical and scientific texts. Cracraft credits her Chicago concentration for helping her clean up in the category titled “Discovery Channel.” She attributes her general knowledge to work. “I spent a year working at Barnes & Noble,” said Cracraft. “You cover a lot of information working in a bookstore.”

    Despite the intense competition, Cracraft said the contestants had fun and actually cheered for one another during the games. Other fans included Chicago students and College advisers who journeyed to the Rosemont to root for a Chicago win. “It was exciting to be there,” said Katie Nash, Dean of Students in the College. “We are so proud of Carolyn.”

    A student from Northwestern lost her game but made it to the finals as a wild card player because she had a high score. One Wildcat in the studio audience was confident of a Northwestern victory, saying, “The best of Northwestern can beat the best of Chicago anytime.” Never dare a Maroon.

    The Reynolds Club Coffee Shop will be tuned in to the tournament finals to cheer on Chicago’s champion as she competes against students from the University of Kentucky and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, the Reynolds Club Coffee Shop will broadcast College Jeopardy!: Behind the Scenes, a half-hour documentary filmed by ABC Channel 7, at 3 p.m. on Friday.

    “I guess I’ve always wanted to be on Jeopardy!,” said Cracraft. “I always watched the show and thought, ‘I bet I could do that!’” Answer: You bet she can.