The first tournament of the season in Pennsylvania for the 2019-2020 school year was one of the most exciting in recent memory. Penn State played host to 28 teams from 17 schools all over the state, from the forests of the Allegheny to the farms of Lancaster. Some participants were longtime circuit regulars, but many were attending a pyramidal quizbowl tournament for the first time. While there were a few delays due to moderator error and having to re-do the schedule on a fly, it was still a well run event considering its size. Tournament director Ashish Kumbhardare deserves plaudits for his outreach to new schools and management of the day.
Stats can be found here.
Both the 1st and 3rd place games to end the tournament were decided by 5 points. In the title game, we were treated to another edition of Manheim Township v. State College, as younger players squared off in the latest edition of Pennsylvania’s oldest quizbowl rivalry. Township triumphed on the final question. Led by a balanced attack in which Ian, Jaisal, and Kevin all scored at least 30 points per game (PPG), they were able to win a number of games soundly and finished the day undefeated. State College A, however, was not to be trifled with, and notched the most powers (15-point buzzes) of the day out of any team. In the third place game, State College B bested Wellsboro from North-Central Pennsylvania. An all-girl team led by Raevyn, the tournament’s top scorer, Wellsboro made a big impression with a collective 37/85/30 statline. In what looks to be a rebuilding year for Northeastern Pennsylvania, they might make a lot of noise at tournaments in that region.
The rest of the playoff brackets were filled with a mix of old and new teams. Ithaca from New York and Montgomery from Northeast PA both turned in fine performances to get the season going. Ithaca is coming off a 5th-place finish at nationals last year and looks to have quite a lot of talent for continued domination. Meanwhile, Montgomery is continuing a steady climb in the PA quizbowl world since debuting a season and a half ago. Their 340 PPG augurs well for future success. Meanwhile, a team from Bishop McDevitt outside Harrisburg made a decisive debut, leading the tournament with 22.5 points per bonus (PPB). As bonus conversion is not dependent on opponent, that indicates considerable skill. Boalsburg’s St. Joseph’s Catholic and the Pocono’s Pleasant Valley also excelled as first-time schools. I read for all three of these new teams, who impressed me continually with good early buzzes. All these teams have a bright future in this game. State College C’s Tori, Ithaca B’s Heewon, and Montgomery B’s Owen finished right next to each other for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th highest individual scorers at the tournament.
Impressive performances by new and old schools also headlined the consolation brackets. Ithaca A and Bishop McDevitt B tied to win the first consolation bracket. DuBois Central Catholic, in their first weekend tournament, impressed with 15 powers and 17.6 points per bonus, which are tough numbers to get on a first try. Various schools from across Western PA got their first taste of quizbowl as Shamokin Area, Warren Area, Eisenhower, and Tyrone Area all competed; they were joined by debuts from Northwest Area and Midd-West (ironically both from farther east than State College!) That brought the total of New Schools that tried pyramidal quizbowl at once up to ten at Nittany Lion Novice, which is the most in a long time, if not ever. Huntingdon, who first played at NLN I, also joined in on the competition, with two teams going a collective 11-8 in an effort to train up the next SSNCT (small schools nationals) contender.
The SCOP Novice question set was well written and very appropriate for this difficulty. Students had no trouble with these questions and I saw many of them make impressive buzzes. Literature seemed to be toughest, as is often the case for new players. If your school missed out, this set is being played in two weeks at Carnegie Mellon’s tournament.
Every moderator I spoke to about the tournament was refreshed by not only the quality of play but the enthusiasm of the students as well. It’s always a pleasure to see new students enjoying the game, learning something new, and working together through strong stretches and harder stretches alike. We hope to see all of these players again around the circuit very soon!