From left: Ne Dassanayake, Nitzan Friedberg, Mitchell Oh, Justin Kenny, Alex Kovar, Andres Cordoba.

A team from Ames High School will represent Iowa in this weekend’s National Academic Quiz Tournament Championships in Atlanta.

Seventeen-year-old Justin Kenny, a junior, is part of the six-member team from Ames competing in what’s dubbed the Super Bowl of the Mind. Kenny says they’re excited to fly to Georgia today and put their brains to the test.

“They have scrimmaging so any team who hasn’t been there before can get acclimated with things,” Kenny says. “The preliminary rounds start on Saturday. They have two sessions. We’re in the morning session, and based on that, they will seed everyone and put everyone into the finals, whoever’s going to make it into the finals on Sunday.”

Topics range from sports to pop culture and from biology to classic literature. Kenny was asked by Radio Iowa how he studies for what’s considered one of the country’s most challenging academic tournaments.

“I want to say you can’t, really, but each of us have picked a topic that we’re particularly good at,” Kenny says. “We focus on those areas. I’m history. My friend Andres’ is science. Alex is geography. We all have something that we’re good at and interested in so we focus on that.”

The six-member team from Ames is all male. Kenny says he tries to cram as much information into his head as possible but recognizes his best subject is history.

“A lot of it, I just get through regular coursework at the high school,” Kenny says. “I’ve just picked up on some extra things. I used to live in Europe so I’ve been to a lot of interesting places and sometimes, I watch videos just to gain some extra history knowledge.”

Kenny wasn’t sure about any scholarships or cash prizes for the winners. “I think it’s just trophies,” he says, “and of course, glory and honor.”