Month: February 2017

Tartan Invitational Wrap-Up

Also taking place this past Saturday was the 2017 Tartan Invitational. 18 teams from 12 schools gathered at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh to battle it out on the NAQT IS-162 set. Full stats from the tournament can be found here.

Even missing their two top scorers, State College A, paced by 79 PPG from Joshua Geselowitz and 54.5 PPG from Mia Cavener, went 11-0 on the day to clear the field. This included some close victories, particularly one by the smallest of margins, 360-355, over Winchester Thurston A, who placed third behind State College B, the latter of whom only lost two close matches to their A team. State College remains an interesting team to watch, as we’ve still only seen what is probably their true A team once this year. Remaining tournaments on the calendar should provide some good opportunities for them to continue to prove their skills before nationals.

Rounding out the top bracket were Shady Side AAllderdice, and Westmont Hilltop A. These are three improving teams to keep an eye on in future tournaments in western Pennsylvania as well. Shady Side’s A team even led the field in powers, notching a solid 51, with the one-two punch of William Lu and Will Davis recording 20 and 21, respectively. Shady Side’s B team went undefeated in the afternoon rounds behind a strong performance by Nick Becker. These teams appear to currently comprise a solid second tier in the west, behind State College and Alagar Homeschool.

Also in attendance were teams from Central Catholic, Hampton, Huntingdon, South Side, Kane, Yough, and Saegertown, who played their first pyramidal tournament of the year. We hope to see them and all the other attendees at more events in the future!

All in all, it was a good day for the teams out west. We’ll be looking forward to the next tournament, hosted on March 11 at Central Catholic!

Ryan Bilger

Great Valley Quiz Bowl Tournament IV Wrap-Up and Comments

40 teams from across Pennsylvania and beyond gathered at Great Valley High School in Malvern, PA for the 4th edition of the always-excellent GVQBT.

Final overall results on Neg5 are available here:

And final playoff results (which determined placement) are here:

Open Division

1. Lehigh Valley Academy A
2. Manheim Township A
3. Camp Hill
4. Downingtown East A
5. Downingtown STEM


Lehigh Valley Academy A (foreground) collaborates on a bonus question in the final against Manheim Township A (background)

The tournament came down to yet another skirmish between the two teams who have battled back-and-forth throughout the year for supremacy in Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Academy A and Manheim Township A. Both teams were at essentially fully strength once the afternoon came around and went undefeated throughout the tournament into what was basically a best-of-3 final. MT A came away with the first match and only needed to grab one of the remaining 2 potential matches to win. But after MT A jumped out to a 120-point lead in Game 2, Alex from LVA simply went off, going on a run of 10 tossups in a row with a series of deep knowledge buzzes, buzzer-race wins, and conversions on negs from MT. This run seemed to break MT A’s confidence going into the final match and, though they kept it close for a bit, Alex put up another 130-point performance to claim the 1st-place trophy. MT A definitely has the firepower to beat LVA, but Alex’s consistency (while most dominant in history, he no major weaknesses and usually buzzes right after the power mark in almost any category) has made LVA A the team to beat now in PA.

Camp Hill finished in 3rd and seems to be on a steady rise through the ranks of the top teams in PA. Colton has always been a solid all-around generalist with deep strengths in history, but what’s triggered the latest rise has been Sydney’s emergence as a bonafide deep literature specialist. If they can find consistent 3rd and 4th chair specialists (although their teammates today definitely contributed some key buzzes), they have a good shot at winning the whole SSNCT. Downingtown East A continued its string of solid performances and got a nice win over local rival Downingtown STEM, though STEM is yet another team on the rise. STEM actually had Manheim Township A on the ropes with a lead going into the final TU in their match, but unfortunately negged to lose by 15 points. STEM has major pockets of deep knowledge, especially in science, and if they continue to develop players around Vishwa (who averaged 100 PPG today) they’re only going to improve.

Lancaster Mennonite continued their aggressive play, racking up 49 (!) negs over the course of the tournament and continuing to demonstrate strong pockets of knowledge in religion and history in the top bracket. Concord (DE) showed up without their best player and rode a favorable schedule into the playoffs while an under-strength Manheim Township B just seemed content to make the playoffs with a narrow 15 points win over Friends Select A. FSS A got a measure of revenge by running through the top consolation bracket and notching wins over Henderson A and an understrength Delaware Valley A. FSS continues to demonstrate outstandingly deep knowledge (4th-most for powers out of all teams at the tournament) but still needs to close up a few gaps and get all of their Big 3 playing at once more consistently. Both Bermudian Springs and Central Bucks East made the most of their appearances as well by finishing in the middle of that same consolation bracket.

Novice Division

1. Manheim Township C
2. Haverford
3. Central Bucks East
4. Great Valley Middle School B
5. Friends Select C


Tournament Director and Great Valley Coach McCauley makes announcements before the JV/Novice division final of Manheim Township C (left) and Haverford (right).

Manheim Township C won the novice division trophy by defeating Haverford High School in the finals. Interestingly, though Manheim C did not have the most impressive PPB in the novice division, their on-the-buzzer skills were more than enough to make up for that. This will be a group of underclassmen to watch as they move up within the Manheim system. This finish also marked Haverford’s first appearance on the pyramidal quizbowl circuit in five years and they became one of only a small handful for DelCo Hi-Q teams ever to play in a weekend quizbowl tournament n Pennsylvania. They made the most of their time with an exciting up-and-down day that culminated in the runner-up finish to Manheim C. Paced by Jack’s 62 PPG , Haverford would be an excellent addition to the circuit–hopefully they can bring along some other Hi-Q teams too!

Everyone’s favorite CBEAST‘s B team actually finished with the highest points-per-bonus of all the novice schools, but lost to Haverford to finish in 3rd place. CB East has long been one of the most involved Bucks County schools in quizbowl (often called “Scholars Bowl” in Bucks) and it looks like they’re loaded for the next few years. In the rest of the novice division top bracket, Friends Select B (a 3-person team) was solid, but they turned out to have a weakness: middle schoolers. Great Valley’s Middle School sent a team of 7th and another team of 8th graders and both finished in the top 6 in this novice division. Even better, all of them were fairly well-balanced scoring-wise.It looks like GV will have a very solid pipeline of talent for the next few years. Rounding out the top bracket were SLA, who started strong but faded a bit after lunch, and PALCS, which is in the middle of a rebuilding phase this year.

Downingtown East C, who missed the top bracket by the smallest of margins in losing a tiebreak game to GV MS, let loose some frustration in pretty much stomping all the teams who tried to get in their way in the middle bracket. Lehigh Valley Academy B featured some of Alex Schmidt’s loyal teammates who finally got a chance to play outside the considerable “shadow” and acquitted themselves nicely.

Let us extend a big welcome to Franklin Learning Center, who joined the teams on the Cheese Bus of Knowledge from Philadelphia and made their quizbowl debut here. They got ahead of their intra-Philly competition with a win over Bodine in the morning, which boosted them into the middle bracket, where they put up a solid fight but were a bit outmatched by more experienced teams. Bodine themselves had a rough morning, but a great afternoon, winning the lower consolation bracket.

Also a big shout-out to Renaissance Academy for sending 4 teams worth of students in both brackets and all topping 10 PPB. In fact, every team at this tournament finished with at least 10 PPB except for a short-handed DV B. It was a good day of competition all-around and teams definitely got their money’s worth with at least 10 matches for each (a very cool bit of scheduling by Great Valley to avoid byes) and finishing everything but the 2nd game of the finals by 4 PM.


Renaissance Academy poses for a picture.

A note on the question sets: while the HSAPQ Novice Set used in the novice division was quite solid and reader-friendly (if a bit challenging on the bonuses), the GSAC set used in the varsity division had a number of major issues. While this might have been excusable if this had been the first use of these questions, this was apparently something like the 8th mirror of the set and there were still major factual errors, confusing grammar (esp. a problematic use of too many pronouns in Lit. questions), and a near-complete lack of alternative answer lines, which often made this frustrating to read and led to a number of protests. This is unacceptable. I would not recommend using iterations of GSAC in the future unless the editors make it clear that they will incorporate feedback and improve their product.


Norwin Invitational Wrap-Up (2/4/17)

Yesterday, pyramidal quizbowl invitationals arrived in Westmoreland county for the first time, with a 22 team event at Norwin High School in Irwin. Directed by Senior Andy Halza, the event ran with impressive efficiency and continued the trend of quality tournaments and quality competition at first time hosts in the state this season.

Stats are here.


Tournament champions Winchester Thurston A before a morning match. From L to R: Brenda, Aiden, Nathaniel, and Jacob.

Winchester Thurston A claimed their first tournament win of the season with a closely contested 370-310 win over Allderdice. They put up an undefeated 8-0 record. Jacob, Nathaniel, and Aiden all cleared 30 points per game for the tournament, giving Thurston a balanced attack. In particular, this team seemed to take well to science questions. Allderdice was down some of their better players for Norwin Invitational, but despite this, are improving readily throughout the year. This young team could be one of Western PA’s best by next season.

Third place went to a house team from Norwin A. Norwin managed to field nine entire teams for their own event while still having plenty of left over volunteers to read rounds, an incredible feat of preparation considering few had quizbowl experience. Norwin I is, to my knowledge, the first I team in PA quizbowl history. Winchester Thurston B was the final playoff team.


Allderdice (left four) versus Norwin A.

Also of significance at this event was the presence of a host of first time teams from around Pennsylvania. A hearty welcome goes out to Franklin Regional, Penn Trafford, Penn Hills, Baldwin, and Washington, all of whom debuted on the pyramidal quizbowl circuit. The former two of these made the second bracket on their first go, which is no small feat. We also welcome back Bishop Canevin high school to the circuit after a long absence. I read for them twice, and this team is still a bit raw, but its lead scorers are freshmen, including an already 50 point per game player in Joe Skelley. I hope to have the chance to read for all of these teams in the future, welcome to the club.

Elsewhere, Shady Side A, despite a tough loss in the morning keeping them from the top bracket, put up stats comparable to the finalists. Lead by the one two punch of William Lu and Will Davis, the event’s 2nd and 4th scorers, they could well win a tournament this season before all is said and done. The final school in attendance was Westmont Hilltop, a perennial Small School team from the Johnstown area. They were solid as always, punching well above their weight class.


Tournament director Andy Halza runs the closing awards ceremony, hitting a stellar 3pm end time.

Norwin ran an awesome event overall, and I would happily staff there again. Hopefully this is a new regular event! Next week, there will be split action in PA, as both Great Valley and Carnegie Mellon host. Stay tuned!

-Ben Herman