With a bit over half the major area tournaments completed for the year, it is time for the inevitable mid-season ranking. There have been a lot of surprises, a lot of new contenders, and a few underachievers too. Many of the teams here have not played many events and there’s still a bunch of room for fluctuation in the second half of the season, so if you didn’t make it, don’t get discouraged! The late season had always supplied some big games.
Honorable Mentions: Cedar Crest, Wilmington Charter C
10) Downingtown East
The D-East squad this year had to face the challenge of replacing super-player Neil Vinjaimuri, who alone carried them to being the second or third best team in the region. To that end, they haven’t quite come up with an answer. None of their players has put in what one would call a top performance, but they have a lot of decent players and fantastic bonus conversion. To translate that into wins and rise in the rankings, they will need more power buzzes on deep clues. The base is there for a run up this list.
They were 20 points away from a superplayoff to get into the finals at Henderson invitational. While their statistics are worse than D-East, they have translated that into wins at a more steady clip with a somewhat higher rate of tossup gets. Once again, this team can get cannon buzzes on late clues, and upping their power rate could take them up this list.
This is a much improved school from last year. It’s hard to know what to make of PALCS because their roster is so dense with 20-30 point a game players. I see them as a very up-and-coming team. They own a pair of clutch wins over Cedar Crest and have played some of the region’s top teams to within a few question margin. All of their stats are good. If PALCS keeps working at it and retains a lot of those players, I see an easy top 5 team next season. We’ll see if this growth continues in the second half.
7) Manheim Township B
Their full line-up hasn’t played enough together at once to get as good grasp on them as PALCS. They’re a really similar team to PALCS with youth and potential, decent but not overwhelming stats, many fine players, but no lights out weapons. I think the two teams are basically the same caliber on NAQT style questions, but QuAC indicated a pretty big statistical gap on HSAPQ style questions.
6) West Chester East
Only played one event, no scheduled further appearances. If they don’t come to more, they will drop out of here by year’s end. But, for now, East is the best team in Chester County. Joe Mariano anchors that team, getting the majority of their points. East has superior power stats, high finishes, and bonus conversion compared to Unionville and D-East, but their neg rate is awfully high. This is a good team I hope we see more of.
5) Wilmington Charter B
By no means cast-offs from the A team, Charter B is still quite dangerous, probably the first team on this list that could threaten for top 100 nationally by year’s end. They have contributors, but after Mabel D’Souza they don’t have many force players. They’re well rounded and should never be counted out, but despite that, head to head have shown they clearly cannot hang with this year’s elite four. I don’t see them advancing above 5th by the end of the year, but that’s no fault of their own. We’ll see if they or anyone else can prove me wrong.
4) Lehigh Valley Academy
a.k.a Alex Schmidt. This isn’t a team, just one player right now, but a fine player. Alex is just a freshman and already has a fantastic ability to nail tossups, decent but not spectacular bonus skills, and wins against quality teams. A victory over Emmaus at a New Jersey tournament was a shocker, but it shows what he can do. One man teams often suffer on bonuses, and since he’s so young his cannon knowledge isn’t what it could be yet, thus I have him ranked here. Watch out for this one in the future.
3) Manheim Township A
The consensus #2 pre-season, Manheim’s had a rocky season. They have underachieved a bit at some tournaments due to their inability to develop a science player and low power rates compared to similar teams. Despite this, they have finished in the top two or three of the most recent big Philadelphia events, and have beaten many good teams to match those losses. Jake Deerin and Ahan Patel are a great one-two punch. It is very within their power to get back to #2 by the season end with some hard work. The battle for that spot will be fun to watch as the season rolls on.
This year’s out-of-nowhere new to invitationals public school, Emmaus has made a grand entrance onto the invitational scene this season. Ryan Bilger is as dominant a senior entrant as Neil Vinjaimuri was last year, and in fact I’d say is probably better. He’s good all around the distribution for great buzzes. His support players get overshadowed by him but show some potential to keep things rolling for Emmaus. They are having a season for the ages and I’m exited to see what they’ve got next.
1) Wilmington Charter A
Not really a surprise, but what can one do? Charter A is as good as last year’s squad, with four excellent players (Varun Wadha, Mohan Malhotra, Shrayus Sortur, and Rohan Narayan) who specialize to cover all the ground needed. Each of them could anchor a team in the top 10, and their combined forces have blown pretty much every team in Philadelphia out of the water for now. They were ranked 16th nationally in a recent poll, and I frankly think that is low.