2018 PACE National Scholastic Championship Wrap-Up

This past Saturday and Sunday saw the last major quizbowl event of the year, the PACE National Scholastic Championship. 96 teams from around the country competed for the title, including six Pennsylvania squads. Qualification for this tournament required finishing in the top 20 or 25 percent of teams at a PACE-certified tournament. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology A (VA) took first place, defeating Dublin Scioto (OH) in the first game of an advantaged final.

Full stats for the tournament can be found at this link. Please note that at the NSC, incorrect or unanswered bonus parts bounce back to the opposing team, and these bounceback statistics are displayed in the final three columns on the right, while traditional points per bonus stats appear to their left.

Downingtown STEM capped off their incredible season with a bang, finishing in 18th place with a record of 13-5. Vishwa Shanmugam was the tournament’s 6th-top overall scorer with 112.78 PPG, and Anish Gadgil and Rohan Vora each added solid contributions as well. STEM took home several victories against the nation’s top teams, including St. John’s (TX) as well as HSNCT runners-up Hunter (NY). For a team to go from not playing pyramidal quizbowl to placing 18th at NSC in 18 months is nothing short of astonishing, and D-STEM deserves tremendous credit for putting in the hard work to make it happen.

In the final act of Alex Schmidt’s high school quizbowl career, Lehigh Valley Academy took 21st place, with a 12-6 record, while also capturing the small school championship. Alex showed his ability to buzz all over the distribution once again, finishing with a whopping 138.89 PPG. He did fall to D-STEM in an exciting 370-330 match, but recorded strong wins as well over Robinson (VA) and Georgetown Day (DC). Speaking for myself, I saw Alex’s potential in playing against him when he was a freshman and I a senior, and it has been nice to see it pay off through strong finishes like this one.

Manheim Township A finished 30th overall (12-5 record), the highest finish at NSC in school history. Many of us counted out this group at the start of the year, and they certainly proved us wrong. Seniors Bryce Katch and Dan Nguyen led the way for the Blue Streaks, but fellow senior Michael Buffa and sophomore Will Steger both contributed over 20 PPG as well. Though they took a loss to LVA, the team scored a big-time win over national powerhouse LASA A (360-280), and were one tiebreaker away from making the top bracket. An excellent end to the season for this group.

Great Valley finished in 58th place, with a 6-9 record. Sam Scarfone demonstrated his skills once again with 59.33 PPG, while Dan Chen and Mark Neri also added over 20 PPG each. GV started the day 0-5, but rebounded to win 6 of their last 10 matches, including a nice victory over past SSNCT champion AMSA (MA). Not quite the ending this squad may have been hoping for, but it has still been fun to watch them develop over the years.

After missing HSNCT due to scheduling issues, Delaware Valley claimed 62nd place (7-8 record). As has been the case for most of the year, Colin Kawan-Hemler (46.67 PPG) and Frani King (29.33 PPG) set the pace, and DV also got noteworthy efforts from two returning juniors, Emma Dove and Chris Secular. The team squeaked out a tight 250-240 win over top Kentucky team Dunbar, and also beat strong teams in Okemos (MI) and Saint Joseph (IN). Overall, a nice weekend for the class of Northeast PA.

Finally, Manheim Township B took 86th place with a 5-10 record. This young team was composed exclusively of sophomores and juniors, including lead scorers Zac Stapler and Cyril Hainthaler, who will hope to play key roles next year as Manheim Township reloads for another season. This nationals experience will likely prove quite valuable in this regard.

And with that, another year in Pennsylvania quizbowl comes to a close. It has been an exciting campaign all around, and I have greatly enjoyed following it throughout. Stay tuned for our end-of-season rankings and final discussion on the season, coming soon!

-Ryan Bilger

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