The 2019-20 quizbowl season in Southeast PA finally had its proper opening for all teams (instead of novice teams) this past Saturday, as the squads at Friends Select and Carver E & S teamed up to host the latest iteration of the Philly Fall Invitational. 36 teams from 16 schools competed on NAQT IS 187A in two divisions, and the stats for both can be found here. Apologies in advance for the length of this wrap-up, but we have a lot of exciting teams, players, and storylines to cover!
Another year, another wild finish at Philly Fall. This year saw preseason #1 Henderson A emerge victorious from the disadvantaged side of a final against Manheim Township A, winning two straight head-to-head matchups to claim the first place trophy. Henderson came back from a 130-point deficit after 12 tossup-bonus cycles and correctly answered every single bonus part they heard to win the first game 385-370, then pulled away in the second half to seal up a 390-335 triumph. Vijay Anne once again served as Henderson’s lead scorer, finishing with 89.17 PPG, but Vikram Chodapaneedi really stepped up in the first game of the finals series, putting up a 5/2/1 statline to force the winner-take-all match. We generally know the story for Henderson at this point: as good as any team in the country on current events and other “NAQT content,” generally high power rates, strong coverage across the board. Vijay and Vikram are going to be a lethal 1-2 combo throughout the year, and if they can get third and fourth scorers capable of getting a tossup or two every game, we may be talking about another deep nationals run for Henderson come May.
This isn’t to take away from Manheim Township’s day either, as this was a statement event for them. Ranked #6 in the preseason poll, MT defeated #1 Henderson in their first matchup, as well as #3 Penn Manor and #5 Great Valley A in the playoffs. Will Steger (75.00 PPG) looks like a legitimate Player of the Year candidate, and A.Z. Faiz (60.42 PPG) has clearly settled in at the high school level in his sophomore year. They’ll certainly look back on the finals series with some regret, but this is another squad with a 1-2 punch that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the state, and with Manheim Township’s track record of improving players, there’s no reason to think they’re done getting better.
Great Valley‘s A and B teams finished 3rd and 4th, respectively. These two squads are just so fascinatingly balanced and close to each other in skill that it’s extremely difficult to evaluate them. GV A, composed of John Li (46.50 PPG), Rishi Raman (43.00 PPG), Anshu Nunemunthala (37.00 PPG) and Noah Harrigan (27.00 PPG), finished with 20 more powers than the B team (79 to 59) and 8 fewer negs (20 to 28). However, the B team, made up of Nolan Greenways (39.50 PPG), Anish Kodali (38.00 PPG), Alan Xu (25.00 PPG), and Shrey Pandya (22.00 PPG) emerged with a notably higher points per bonus, with 24.50 to the A team’s 23.87. I apologize for throwing so many numbers into one paragraph, but they show just how many solid players Great Valley has, and both teams gave one of the finalists a run for their money. GV A lost to MT A by a 340-360 margin, while GV B only fell to Henderson A by a score of 400-405, in what must be one of the highest-scoring matches in Pennsylvania quizbowl history. Can either of these teams put all their talent together and take home a tournament victory? Stay tuned!
Penn Manor finished in 5th place, with a 5-5 record. For as much as there is to say about the other top teams in the state right now, there seems to be nothing new under the sun for Penn Manor. Connor Mayers scored 114.50 PPG to by far lead the tournament, but PM’s other players combined for just 5 PPG on the day. As someone who has scored 80-85% of his team’s points throughout five years of high school and collegiate quizbowl, I feel that I am as qualified as anyone to say that it is extremely difficult, if not practically impossible, to take down top teams without at least some consistent teammate support. Penn Manor seems to be in a situation where their best course of action would be working together to generate buy-in and tasking the second-through-fourth scorers with becoming experts in some small area of the distribution where they can contribute consistently. Building such a consensus is not easy, but it appears to be an absolutely necessary step if Penn Manor has aspirations of competing for a state title.
Moravian A may have gone winless in the playoffs, but they took Penn Manor to the final tossup before falling 330-360. Moravian may not quite have the firepower to defeat the state’s titans quite yet, but I definitely want to give them credit for remaining involved in the circuit year after year and building to the point where they can make the top bracket with some consistency. Alex Adams was their top scorer again at 52.50 PPG, but again every player notched at least one tossup per game, and even on an A set a 23.54 PPB is nothing to scoff at. Moravian should be proud of the day they had regardless of their playoff results, and if they keep improving they could and should receive some votes in future state polls.
A parity-filled second bracket saw Great Valley C, Manheim Township B, and Wilmington Charter A (DE) tie for the top spot with 7-3 records at the end of the day. GV C emerged as yet another strong team in their program’s tried-and-true model, with all four players averaging at least 23.5 PPG and three out of four players notching double-digit power counts (with the fourth just one off, at nine on the day). The C team’s strong performance proved once again that Great Valley certainly doesn’t lack for talented players. Manheim Township B hung tough in all of their matches, only falling to GV B by 25 points (330-355). Cyril Hainthaler led the way for them with 53.50 PPG, while Deeya Doshi added 40.50 PPG. Could one or more of these B-teamers be the players MT A needs to get over the proverbial hump?
Germantown Friends School A also had a solid showing in their first tournament of the season, finishing with a winning record at 6-4. Lucas Schlesinger’s 65.50 PPG was good for 7th overall on the day, and they pulled out a 340-300 victory over MT B in the first of the teams’ two matchups. This is a nice result for a program entering its second year, and GFS looks to have a bright future ahead. Wilmington Charter B and Middlesex County Academy A (NJ) rounded out the second bracket.
The third bracket featured more of PA’s top programs showing off their depth, with Henderson B, Manheim Township C, and Henderson C finishing 1-2-3. It’s always nice to see talented young players doing well, and I look forward to seeing them move up in the future! Wissahickon A and Archbishop Ryan A also finished tied at 4-6. Jack Quinn (44.00 PPG) and Michael O’Farrell (35.00 PPG) served as Wissahickon’s top scorers, while Ryan Elkins’s 49.50 PPG led the way for Archbishop Ryan.
In the final bracket, GFS B and Moravian B topped the pack. Bodine A finished next, led by Alex Thomer’s strong 60.00 PPG. Next came a rebuilding Lancaster Mennonite team, followed by PALCS, whose top scorer Max Lind finished 4th overall for individuals on the day with 80.67 PPG. MaST A also recorded some good experience on the day.
Hopefully the length of this section conveys something of the excitement of the day in Philadelphia. We are in for one heck of a quizbowl season here in Pennsylvania!
I personally read for the novices on the day, and got to see many students enjoy some of their first tastes of quizbowl. MCA B (NJ) emerged victorious after defeating Great Valley E 230-185 in a well-played first game of an advantaged final. GV E was led by Pennsylvania’s top scorer in the division, Leo Makalsky (58.33 PPG). I did get the pleasure of reading one of the most exciting games in the novice division, in which Moravian C forced MCA B into playing that final at all with a 135-120 victory. Down 10 going into the final tossup, MCA B converted, but they unfortunately zeroed the bonus before Moravian’s Audrey Dai powered the tiebreaking tossup for the win. The victory secured a third-place trophy for Moravian and was a thrilling way to end the last full playoff round in the division.
A house team of Carver students tied with Archbishop Ryan B at 5-3 on the day, while Wissahickon B finished 4-4 to round out the top bracket. It was nice to see Church Farm School return to the circuit and finish on top of the consolation bracket, while additional teams from Bodine, Carver, and MaST rounded out the field.
Overall, it was a great day for quizbowl in Philadelphia and in Pennsylvania, and it was just the beginning. I think I speak for all the writers when I say that we cannot wait to see what else is yet to come this season!