Carnegie Mellon University’s annual Mellon Bowl has long been one of the premier quizbowl events of the Western half of PA. This year’s Halloween incarnation did not disappoint. A field of teams from many different high schools in the Pittsburgh metro and beyond showed up to compete, and the competition was very fierce with many good matches in the prelims and playoffs.
One team dominated the proceedings: State College A. They went 11-0 and cleared the field by two wins, so there was no final for the tournament this year. Their stats were a bit lower than at Princeton, but they were missing Mahima Kumara, their best player at that tournament. A balanced four person effort from the team sealed the win. While some of the final scores of their playoff rounds were fairly close, they won every match by triple digits and were never particularly threatened. State College kept on keeping on with their potential state title run, and I think our image of them was reinforced, not changed.
Two teams finished 9-2 to tie for second. One was Winchester Thurston A, who reaffirmed they are still among Pittsburgh’s best squads. Jack Chaillet led the event wit 83.64 points per game. Their bonus conversion was close to 20 points per game. EJ Eppinger, rocking a snazzy bright orange suit for Halloween, has emerged as big time backup for Jack. He had to leave after lunch, which may have contributed to Thurston’s upset playoff loss to their fellow 2nd place finisher Alagar Homeschool. This family of siblings is newer on the PA quizbowl scene and flashed mighty potential. Rajan Alagar’s 25 powers led the tournament pack. I think, noting EJ’s absence and lower bonus conversion for the Alagars, that Winchester Thurston remains Pittsburgh’s top team, but they’re up and coming. I’m exited to see what the Alagars do next.
Other stories on the day include a strong 4th place finish for Allderdice, affirming they are also a factor in this region. Captain Jordan Abbott’s 54 points a game were a big help, though Allderdice’s 30 negs in 11 rounds hurt them a bit. The knowledge seems to be there in increasing amounts, so with some discipline, Allderdice could go far. Camp Hill got to the playoffs with an undefeated morning. This surprised me, but was pleasing to see. The small Harrisburg area School has tricks up its sleeve. DuBois, traveling down from Clearfield county, made the playoffs behind a 68 ppg performance from Eli Kirk. They didn’t have quite enough firepower to defeat any Pennsylvania teams in the afternoon (though they did defeat Ohio’s Warren G. Harding high), so they’re not in Western PA’s elite quite yet, but they have gotten better as years go on, so DuBois is another program I’d have my eye on based on a strong morning.
Other participants included Pittsburgh area regulars Hampton, Keystone Oaks, Indiana, South Side, and Shady Side, who finished in the middle of the pack. It was good to seem them on the buzzer again. Of these I only saw the A team from Hampton, who may not have had the firepower to get lots of fifteens, but did a very good job at keeping efficient, not making mistakes, and picking up solid buzzers before “for ten points”. Also of note were a few newer teams: Eden Christian Academy, Pittsburgh Catholic Central, and Yough (making their first Mellon Bowl appearance in a decade). They all won at least three matches, which is a great base to build on. It will be interesting to see who studies hardest and shoots up the standings fastest.
Western PA quizbowl currently seems to have an excellent parity, which makes for many exciting matches. This was my first time staffing a Western Pennsylvania tournament, and I hope to have the chance to read for all these schools again in the future!