OBERLIN — Oberlin College student Sam Bernhard looked like a pro during the beginning of Wednesday night’s “Jeopardy!” competition.
Bernhard, who faced a retired police officer from Huntington, N.Y., and the returning champion — an attorney from Washington, D.C., answered the first three questions correctly.
But Bernhard, a second-year student, lost momentum as the competition continued, missing several questions and failing to answer before his competitors. He failed to defeat the returning champion, Meredith Larson, but walked away with $1,000 for competing.
Still, Bernhard was happy to compete.
“I consider myself fortunate to have made it through the process,” he said Wednesday before the show.
Bernhard, originally of Blacksburg, Va., couldn’t discuss the results of the show, which aired 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on WOIO-TV, Channel 19. He added that he probably wouldn’t be tuning in.
“It’s a little weird for me — the idea of watching myself on TV,” he said, laughing.
Bernhard survived a selection process of 100,000 to 115,000 potential competitors to make it on the show. Bernhard said he scored high on an online test, which allowed him to attend a regional audition in Detroit.
He said he was one of 400 people chosen for the show from an applicant pool of 2,500 people.
A lifelong fan, the 19-year-old isn’t new to quiz competitions. In high school, Bernhard participated in a quiz competition.
He also participated in soccer in high school, competing in the world’s largest youth soccer tournament in Sweden and Denmark. As part of Oberlin College’s men’s soccer team, he helped the team land its first NCAA Tournament invitation, according to a news release from the college.
Bernhard is studying politics, environmental studies and English at Oberlin College.
When asked what it was like meeting host Alex Trebek, Bernhard said, “He was a lot like he is on the show. “
Bernhard isn’t the first Oberlin College student to appear on “Jeopardy!” The list of former Oberlin College competitors includes Joe Clonick, Kim Hasse, Deb Taub, Deborah Peters, Barbara Diamond, Katie O’Reilly and Kendra Pettis.
Kathy Cacace, a 2004 graduate of Oberlin College, will be on the show scheduled to air Jan. 28. Cacace studied creative writing at the college and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., working in publishing, according to an Oberlin College spokeswoman.