Tournament Coverage

Swarthmore Novice Wrap-Up (1/27/18)

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Bethlehem Catholic poses with their 1st place trophy after finishing 8-0

Final standings are shown in the playoff results here, with full statistics available here.

Bethlehem Catholic emerged from the Lehigh Valley with determination, clearing the field with an undefeated record. Led by Brendan, this well-rounded team was confident on the buzzer, putting up 46 powers and 450 points per game overall. Their impressive bonus conversion (23.56 PPB) indicates substantial depth as well; look for them to do well if they come back to more Saturday tournaments.

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Archbishop Ryan with their 2nd place trophy

Second place went to Archbishop Ryan and Downingtown East. Archbishop Ryan’s top player was the appropriately named Ryan (a sophomore), who scored a tournament-leading 107 Points-Per-Game in the prelims. Following a 415-80 victory in their first match, they proceeded to score a very solid 19.18 PPB over the course of eight rounds. This enthusiastic new team should not be underestimated at future tournaments. D-East’s three-person team was powered by Maggie (75 PPG in the prelims) and Nikhil (42 PPG), with solid contributions from Simran. Both Ryan and D-East exercised impressive neg control, with both teams accumulating only 4 negs each during the entire event.

The rest of the playoff bracket included Friends Select C and two teams from Carver. FSS C put forth a team effort, with three players exceeding 23 PPG. Carver A notched a thrilling 270-265 win over Archbishop Ryan in the final match of the prelims, while Carver B upset their own A team in the last round of the day. Carver B also had 19.31 PPB, the third highest of the tournament. These talented young teams should be exciting to watch at the Philadelphia City Championship in March.

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FSS D after the tournament

In the consolation bracket, Church Farm School, Archbishop Wood, and Bodine all finished with 4-4 records. After their debut at the Philly Fall Tournament in November, CFS made a welcome return with each player powering at least twice during the tournament. Saiif’s 52.50 PPG was fueled by several deep pockets of knowledge, especially on literature. Archbishop Wood had a balanced scoring attack with four players from the six-person team of ever-rotating substitutions putting up 20 PPG or above, and Bodine’s one-two punch of Alex and Raquel combined for a win against Carver B and 16.94 PPB overall. The rest of the consolation bracket was rounded out by FSS Middle, FSS D, and Carver C, all of whom showed solid potential. FSS Middle in particular came within 75 points of beating D-East in the prelims, and their 17.17 PPB suggests a strong pipeline for the FSS quizbowl program.

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A match between D-East and FSS C

This tournament ran smoothly, finishing around 3:00 PM for most teams and providing a fun opportunity for less experienced players to compete on the SCOP Novice set. Out of the four schools in their first year of playing quizbowl, the two brand-new schools ended up taking the top two places. We hope to see all these schools back at more tournaments in the future!

-Jackie

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Downingtown East 2018 Invitational (1/6/18) Wrap-Up

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Downingtown STEM A poses after winning the varsity division 

42 teams gathered at Downingtown East HS on Jan. 6th for a chilly day of quizbowl to kick off the new year. Full statistics and results are available here.

Varsity/Experienced Division

In the varsity division, Downingtown STEM A took the crown against a resurgent Manheim Township A in the final, winning 320-260 in a winner-take-all single game. STEM, playing at full strength for the first time in a while, put up an incredible amount of powers over the course of the day (90 in total, averaging over 8 per match) that managed to make up for some occasional spurts of negs. The final match was in doubt up until the final few TUs as STEM connected on enough tossups to put MT away at the end. But Manheim Township definitely deserved to be in the final and has exceeded expectations coming out of winter break. Though not yet a national contender, they’ve certainly entered the PA conversation this year. Township A should no longer be doubted; they should be feared. The impressive performances by the other Township teams this tournament as well as their Middle School teams at previous competitions are a testament to how well-oiled this venerable PA quizbowl machine is.

Friends Select A finished in 3rd. This time, it seems Jake upped the studying ante and led the team in scoring for the first time this year. A three-headed attack that covers pretty much all of the canon (Richard may well be the 2nd-best science player in PA at this point) and gets solid 4th chair support is dangerous, but FSS A also led the tournament in negs as a team, which led to a few close shaves. FSS beat Henderson A in the 3rd-place match to take a trophy. Henderson, led by the always-solid Aravind and Vijay, played themselves into 4th place by knocking off Great Valley A in a match that’s going to haunt GV for awhile. Great Valley A remains fully capable of winning any game against any team in PA, but also seems unable to get over the hump when it comes to winning consistently. Henderson, meanwhile, continues their overachieving streak, and did so with only 3 players this time.

Delaware Valley A continues to put up solid numbers, also topping 21 PPB for the tournament. Their losses weren’t too bad–a FSS power-fest and STEM’s 2nd-closest game of the tournament–but this team seems to expect more than that. They’ll have to up their game to make the best-in-state convos, but they’re firmly within the upper tier of teams in the state. In a welcome repeat re-appearance on the circuit, Unionville had a nice tournament, knocking off FSS A and keeping it close in a couple of championship bracket games. Their PPB made a remarkable jump over the course of the tournament too, suggesting their quizbowl IQ may have increased over the course of the tournament and perhaps pointing to opportunities for future improvement if they keep playing (h/t to Silverman for pointing this out). Paced by Connor’s 70 PPG, Penn Manor A continued their steady play throughout the season to finish as the final HSNCT qualifier and round out the top 8 teams. Camp Hill A and Emmaus A both made the top brackets, but couldn’t make much noise once there. Manheim Township B kept it close against several top teams and put up a very solid 18.19 PPB while Great Valley C was able to spring an upset over Emmaus in the morning but faded the rest of the day against tough competition in the top bracket.

Nice to see Downingtown West back at a weekend tournament with a particularly strong performance by Miriam (62.5 PPG). Lancaster Mennonite continues to get stronger this season, centered around Jacob (54.38) and an improving group of other supporting staff. Moravian was also nice to see again on the circuit and Lawrenceville (NJ) crossed the Delaware and boldly ventured into the experienced bracket, where they collected a handful of wins for their A and B teams. Renaissance Academy also came out in force with three teams that again bravely challenged the experienced varsity teams.

One note to teams: it’s totally fine to have juniors and seniors compete in the novice division if they’re new to pyramidal quizbowl or don’t play often. Most TDs are likely open to discussing potential exceptions to any eligibility restrictions in the right cases.

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Wallenpaupack B after winning the Novice division.

 Novice

The novice division was small but competitive. In the end, Wallepaupack B defeated Manheim Township D in the final, with FSS C claiming third. Wallenpaupack was led by Angela (45 PPG), with able assistance from the rest of her teammates. MT D got the prelim round win over Wallenpaupack, but lost two close games at the end to finish as the runner-up. It was good to see PALCS at a weekend tournament here, though they struggled a bit in the upper bracket finishing behind both Carver A and Bodine, who scored a nice win over the eventual champions. Penn Manor B finished atop the consolation bracket above a very young Lehigh Valley novice team and several other Carver squads.

Manheim Township Academic Challenge (12/16/17)

The largest pyramidal event in Pennsylvania history occurred last Saturday as 64 teams from all across the state–from Hawley to Philadelphia to Waynesboro to Bethlehem–arrived at Manheim Township High School to test their mettle. 34 teams competed in the Varsity division, while 30 teams contested the novice title. The atmosphere at the event was unlike anything ever seen in Pennsylvania before, with some 250 players on site and a superstar team of dozens of Pennsylvania’s best moderators. Due to its large size, both divisions ran using a card system (wherein teams are power-matched against each other based on similar records) in the preliminary rounds.

Full Stats are here.

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A packed Manheim Township auditorium during the after-lunch meeting.

Varsity Division

Varsity’s top spot went to Lehigh Valley Academy A, where a solo Alex Schmidt fairly smashed most opposition en route to another trophy. It’s hard to say whether the A-set stats mean much for such an accomplished team, but LVA did average 26.35 points per bonus and north of 8 powers per match. Alex was easily the Varsity division’s leading scorer and his personal PPG of 178.9 was good enough for 3rd all-time on NAQT A-sets. There is nothing left at the non-nationals level for Alex to prove at this point. Second place went to Downingtown STEM A. Vishwa and Anish complement one another perfectly, and this broad, deep team got 8 powers a game en route to their runners-up finish. One very significant weakness with STEM that really showed up on A-sets was weak pop culture knowledge, which can be an issue on NAQT packets. Both LVA and STEM, however, took losses to a red-hot Friends Select A, who ended the morning rounds with the #1 Card in Varsity. Though they dropped two afternoon games to finish 5th, FSS proved they are a major threat to beat anyone by defeating the top two teams in close, hard fought matches. Richard’s rise from star (GPQB honorable mention last year) to superstar has been especially thrilling, and his 71 points per game led the way for a short-handed FSS A (missing Rudyard).

The fruitful cross border relationship between Ithaca High in New York and PA teams and events continued, as they drove all the way down and were rewarded for their commitment with a 3rd place finish. Great Valley A, undermanned this time by the absence of their science player Dan, took 4th behind one of incumbent GPQB Player of the Year Sam Scarfone’s best performances. Sam seemed particularly in his element on history and geography at the event. 6th place went to Hempfield A, one of the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s longtime powers who seems to have caught the pyramidal bug. After playing at Henderson last month, they followed up with a workmanlike tournament with some good wins, and received a berth to HSNCT. Downingtown East A finished 7th after another strong performance from Jackie, and Lancaster Mennonite A, perhaps the biggest surprise of the Varsity teams, came out with the last playoff berth, and a breakout performance by Jacob Cairns which included many fiery first line buzzes.

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Hempfield B (left 4) and Lancaster Mennonite A pose for a photo after Mennonite’s 325-200 victory in round 1.

The consolation rounds were headed by two teams from Henderson. Unfortunately, they split their best players to hog HSNCT berths, which is considered against social decorum in Pennsylvania quizbowl and should be discouraged by TDs at future events. Aravind and Vijay continued to have strong seasons for the Henderson Warriors. Unionville finished 11th, and showed they have quite a bit of knowledge to display. Eric and Sophia cleared 40 points per game, and they worked a cool 21 points per bonus, which is very solid for a team still getting familiar with Saturday invitationals. Lakeland finished 13th, and looks to be PA’s best chance for a public school at SSNCT to do deep damage this year. Michael Goerlitz had another excellent run, getting 94 points per game, which was 4th at the event.

Perhaps most notable of all was the plethora of new teams Manheim Township’s coach, Missy Doll, got to the event through outreach. Many Lancaster and Lebanon area teams we don’t see much came out, and did quite well. The Varsity bracket featured three such teams: Red Lion, Lampeter-Strasburg, and Lancaster Catholic. Each came away with some nice wins, and could well turn into contenders soon. A special commendation goes to Red Lion’s Rick Schimek, who notched 68 points per game and was one of its top 10 scorers. I hope we see more from these talented teams very soon.

The field for Varsity also featured A teams from Huntingdon, Penn Manor, Cedar Crest, Moravian Academy, Emmaus, and Wallenpaupack continue their seasons to various levels of success. Bermudian Springs made their season debut as well, finishing near the middle of the pack. B and C teams from Friends Select, Great Valley, Hempfield and Emmaus also competed against this dense, tough field, with Friends Select B taking as high as tied for 11th.

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Downingtown East A on their way to lunch. From L to R: Malaika, Zach, and Jackie.

Novice Division

In the Novice/JV division, Lebanon HS captured the championship in the course of gaining revenge on their only loss of the day to Manheim Township Middle B. Lebanon played an extremely clean tournament, with only 5 negs the entire day, and displayed deep knowledge on many bonuses en route to a solid 17+ PPB. Chase (57 PPG) and Courtney (39 PPG) led the way for Lebanon and I hope they’ll continue to play more weekend tournaments after making such a solid debut.

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Novice division champions Lebanon High School with their trophy.

MT Middle B meanwhile played quite impressively to get to the finals in the first place, paced by Aizaaz’s 68 PPG and solid supporting performances from the rest of the team members. When combined with MT Middle A’s best players (particularly Deeya’s 61 PPG), MT Middle looks to be quite a formidable force at the Middle School level this year. The next few slots were taken up by some promising C teams, with both Emmaus C and Downingtown STEM C showcasing some of the future for Emmaus and STEM. Emmaus C finished with the #1 card after the prelims, but lost to MT Middle B in the playoffs to just finish outside the final. This tournament as a whole was a great example of the value of splitting divisions as it allowed newer players on these teams the opportunity to compete against players of similar experience levels and the card system kept the matches close–in the prelims, 3 teams had 1 point average margins of victory, suggesting that the system did a fairly good job matching teams up.

With so many other schools competing, a few scattered thoughts on various teams from the rest of the bracket:

  • Eastern Lebanon County and Waynesboro made some rare but welcome appearances on the weekend tournament circuit here. In fact, judging by the high number of players on each school’s team (8 and 7, respectively), it seems as if they have plenty of interest for more teams at future tournaments. I would hope in the future that schools just enter two teams instead of one in these cases since it’s much more fun for players to be continually “in” a match and substitutions often seem to take up a lot of time.
  • Lancaster Mennonite’s B team fared well and it’s neat to see a school that has expanded from a single-player powerhouse last year to a more complete program, at least in terms of competing with multiple solid teams at invitationals. Judging by this tournament, it’s pretty clear that most of the teams in PA are taking the program-establishment aspect to heart. This bodes well for creating lasting programs and for the health of the state of quizbowl as a whole.
  • The #4 individual performance in this division came from Sebastian on Carver E & S B, who improved by 20 PPG in the prelims from the LVA tournament a month and a half ago. Lest anyone doubt that studying can pay off, it’s pretty cool to see such quick results. I’d be curious to know of other big increases from tournament to tournament for various players around the state in the future or even over the course of a year.
  • Nathaniel Schmidt–the brother of Alex–finished with over 50 PPG for the tournament for Lehigh Valley Academy B.

-Ben And Chris

Quaker Fall Open III Wrap-Up

[Note: GPQB is trying something new with this wrap-up by conducting post-tournament interviews with some players and coaches to add to the story. All interviewees were selected by whomever was in the Quizbowl Discord from various teams at the time of writing, with an emphasis on Pennsylvania teams.]

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Teams head out from the pre-tournament meeting to begin the first round of the Third Annual Quaker Fall Open.

Thirty-six teams from around the region gathered at the University of Pennsylvania for the 3rd Annual Quaker Fall Open. In the end, Downingtown STEM A came out on top over Great Valley A in the nationals division while Lakeland defeated Great Valley C to win the open division.

Full stats for both divisions are available here.

Nationals Division

Six of the top teams in the region competed in a double round-robin followed by a thrilling 2-game final series. In an incredibly close final four matches that all came down to the final tossup, Downingtown STEM beat Great Valley A, then lost to district rivals Downingtown East, then won two final games against Great Valley A in a disadvantaged final. STEM was missing their history/geography specialist Anish, but Vishwa’s deep science knowledge (he had some very impressive 30s on college-level topics) and solid all-around knowledge helped keep them competitive in every game. Rohan also helped out on the arts, employing a studying strategy of presenting to younger students on the team on various art topics (as inspired by Lily Zhang’s discussion of State College’s strategy).

Despite a tournament-leading 45 negs, the aggressive buzzing strategy paid off for STEM, who also led the tournament with 27 powers. According to Vishwa, this wasn’t a deliberate buzzing strategy; they just buzzed when they thought they knew it and Vishwa felt liberated to be aggressive on history to make up for Anish’ absence. In the final two matches, Vishwa shifted his strategy to avoid negs: “I was a lot less cavalier on science buzzes…I waited a bit more after I thought I knew it.”

Great Valley A (missing their normal #3 Mark) seemingly had the tournament in hand multiple times, but lost to a firing-on-all-cylinders Friends Select team in the final regular round to finish at 8-2 that forced a final with 7-3 D-STEM. GV A knew they’d had neg problems in the past and worked to correct that this time, particularly on a tough question set. Great Valley Coach McCauley said that his A team, “played much more patient–knowing lead-ins would be tougher–and bought in to cutting negs and not beating ourselves.”

Unfortunately, a few poorly-timed negs did cost them in the final few matches and they weren’t able to make up for that. It does seem like GV is working to improve on every question with a data-driven study strategy; Coach McCauley noted that, “We can take the data from this event and say ‘what caused this neg?’ or ‘we zeroed this bonus’ and then discuss who is going to own this topic for next time.” We’ll see if GV’s moneybuzz strategy can pay off at tournaments next semester.

Friends Select A finished in 3rd with a 6-4 record highlighted by a final-round win over Great Valley A. Like the other teams, FSS had practiced on tougher questions in the weeks leading up to this tournament to account for the tougher questions and different distribution. As Jake from FSS A explained, “the biggest difference for us was having to be a lot more conservative on our buzzes on EFT. We spent all of last week practicing waiting longer before buzzing than we would on [NAQT].” Friends Select rotated a fourth into their lineup, with Saras providing handshakes after good buzzes and some help on the bonuses, though the whole team missed some of the geography and current events questions that would be in a NAQT packet.

Making the drive up from Wilmington, Wilmington Charter A (DE) was competitive in all their matches and notched a win over STEM. The core trio of Waley, Sohum, and Sohan continued their solid performances from previous tournaments, though they were somewhat up-and-down depending on the match throughout the day. They’re certainly capable of knocking off any team in the area, but can play somewhat sloppily as well as brilliantly from match to match.

Downingtown East had a memorable match against STEM, beating their district rivals for the first time this academic year after an impressive 30 on the bonus after TU 19 by Malaika. According to D-East’s Jackie, “we were just more cautious and tried to keep it close the entire time, and we also got lucky that some of the topics that came up were ones that we knew decently well.” The rest of their matches put points on the board, but didn’t quite come as close. Their core trio also seems to be in the market for a solid 4th player and will likely make use of their rising B and C teams to provide one for future tournaments.

Middlesex County Academy (NJ), a very young team this year, ventured into the nationals division and adopted an aggressive strategy of buzzing which earned them the runner-up neg title award but probably made sense against the squads they were facing. We of course welcome NJ schools and would love to have more cross the river into PA.

EFT seemed like a solid set in terms of difficulty for most of these teams, who could consistently get TUs and 10 bonuses but also rewarded deep knowledge. Apart from a few instances of bonus inconsistency (which happen in every set) and a couple questionable answerlines, it was a fun set to see played and multiple players and coaches thought it a good learning experience for all.

Open Division

Though they lost several of their starters after last year’s top-20 finish at SSNCT, Lakeland appears to have reloaded largely in the form of Michael’s dominant all-around performance, putting up 127 PPG for the day and going undefeated, with their closest match a 55-point win. Lakeland will likely continue to contest for the best in the Northeast this year and could have a nice run at SSNCT if the rest of the team can develop around Michael’s strengths and weaknesses. Great Valley C made a nice run to the finals, grabbing a win over Manheim Township A and only losing to Wissahickon A and Lakeland. Manheim Township, missing much of their regular A and B teams, got some of their younger players more experience and finished just out of the Open championship match. Impressively, Manheim’s middle school team ended up with a higher PPB than Manheim B here and acquitted themselves well on a tough set of questions (more on this below). D-STEM B and Wilmington Charter B teams ended up in the hunt as well, with Noriyuki and Vedant (respectively) leading them. Science Leadership Academy A, after playing the morning as a duo, added Gavin in the afternoon to boost their PPB but had a rougher time on the TUs. Wissahickon A, after a strong morning, had a tougher afternoon with a couple of close losses and FSS B rode Matt and Silas’s scoring into the champ playoffs, but had a harder time once there.

In the consolation matches, Central Bucks East, sporting T-shirts with the image of an actual “SEABEAST,” warmed up nicely after the prelims and won the top consolation bracket. They seemed to get better as the day went on, moderating their negs and boosting their PPB from 9.1 in the morning to 16 in the afternoon. Great Valley D, after ending up in a tough prelim bracket, had a nice run in that bracket as well, followed by D-East B, FSS C, and Charter C. Keep an eye on Prasanna from Charter C and Jeremy from FSS C in the future. Carver A, rebuilding after losing 3/4 of their team last year, did relatively well on the TUs but struggled on the bonuses. Carver’s B team, featuring several new-to-quizbowl players, definitely caught on more in the playoffs and finished just behind D-East C in their consolation bracket. D-East C was cruising until a final round loss to Bodine, while Manheim’s C team, Wissahickon B, and Franklin Towne Charter A rounded out that bracket.

Although QFO has historically attracted a number of new-to-quizbowl schools, this year the only new team was Archbishop Wood, who quickly caught on after the prelims and doubled their PPB in the playoffs, ending with a hard-fought close game against Rush Fine Arts from Philly. Quizbowl in PA is for some reason lacking in diocesan schools, so it was good to see Wood in attendance and improving throughout the day. Wissahickon C emerged atop that final consolation bracket with some good TU prowess. SLA B and Carver C, both loaded with new-to-quizbowl-this-semester players, rounded out the field as all teams finished with a win.

Unfortunately, the Open division was played on the WHAQ II set which, after being easier-than-average last year (it had a negative Morlan stat correction, suggesting it was easier than the regular HS set) ended up being much harder this year, especially for less-experienced schools. Hopefully this and some other issues will be fixed before future mirrors. I commend all the teams for powering through the set and sticking it out.

Up next in two weeks: 64+ teams gather at Manheim Township. We’ll cover all the action from Lancaster then!

-Chris

Philly Fall Tournament Wrap-Up (11/11/17)

36 teams from across the Greater Philadelphia area converged on Center City, Philadelphia Saturday for the Philly Fall Invitational, jointly hosted by Friends Select School and Carver HSES at Friends Select’s campus.

Full stats are available here.

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The winning duo from D-STEM A. Image via Twitter.

Open Division

Downingtown STEM A swept the field and finished with an unblemished 10-0 record, triumphing in an unusual 2 vs. 2 final against Wilmington Charter A. Propelled by Vishwa’s impressive 118 PPG (note that he actually averaged more points in the playoffs than in the prelims!) and Anish’s solid backing, STEM took on a tough (and somewhat uneven) Harvard Fall question set and was the only team in the field to finish above 20 PPB. Charter, playing somewhat shorthandedly as well, saw the continued emergence of Waley as a star player and excellent complement to A-team anchor Sohum. Great Valley A finished in 3rd, with a sterling performance from last year’s GPQB player-of-the-year Sam (26 powers to only 6 negs) counterbalanced by a consistent neg trend. GV averaged nearly 4 negs a match and barely broke even on the Power to Neg ratio. Downingtown East A finished in 4th, led as usual by Jackie’s strong generalist knowledge, and also picked up some solid assistance from Zach (28.9 PPG). Though they came close to knocking off Charter A, they had a harder time with their in-district rivals at STEM. Friends Select’s house team played with only half of their usual A-team (since FSS quite smartly chose to focus on prioritizing making sure the tournament ran efficiently by having their best readers read instead of play), allowing a rotating cast of A-team hopefuls to get some good experience. Henderson A made the top bracket as well, but isn’t quite ready yet to take back their place atop the Chester County hierarchy at this time.

Great Valley showcased tremendous depth throughout this tournament with their B, C, D, and E teams all finishing in the middle consolation bracket. With good coaching and a stable program in place for several years now, reinforcements from a burgeoning middle school program are helping to replenish and expand the ranks of GV teams this year and likely in future years. A young Penn Manor team continued its long-term expedition forth from the Lancaster-Lebanon League, highlighted with a 345-155 win over a balanced Downingtown STEM B team that came close to making the top bracket.

Wissahickon A, making their season debut, won the 2nd consolation bracket by a fairly large margin. Moorestown Friends, after a year’s hiatus from the circuit, returned and was led by a solid 40 PPG performance from Kayla. Science Leadership Academy A, playing up in the open division for the first time, had several close losses to GV B and Henderson A before finishing alongside Moorestown Friends (whom they beat in a close 200-195 match). Henderson’s enterprising B team, Carver’s house team, and Lancaster Mennonite (unusual but interesting to see several LL teams but not Manheim Township–who was down in Baltimore dogfighting with the DC circuit this weekend–at a tournament).

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Clockwise from the top: Haverford, D-East, and Middlesex County A. Image via Instagram.

Novice Division

Though they lacked their signature red-and-gold bowties, Haverford High school made a big impression in only their 2nd-ever pyramidal tournament of the past few years by winning the novice division and displaying some outstandingly deep knowledge in doing so. Though they have some knowledge gaps due to their relative quizbowl inexperience, they can go on impressive runs of powers and 30s that show just what  some of the other Delaware County Hi-Q schools might be capable of if they chose to play quizbowl. Downingtown East B, paced by a balanced attack with all of its players averaging 29 PPG or higher, showed that the future of D-East should be bright. D-East B’s only losses were to Haverford and they had an impressive 200-point win over Wilmington Charter B in the prelims. Middlesex County A (NJ), another young team recovering from several major graduations last year, was able to knock off Haverford in the first round but then got upset by their B team in the playoffs and finished just out of the finals. Downingtown STEM C and Middlesex B were also both freshman-dominated teams who seemed happy to make the top playoff bracket but then had a harder time. Prathik (MCA B) and Abhsenk (MCA A) both topped 50 PPG, so with their powers combined MCA should be set for the future and we welcome more NJ teams to come over to our tournaments in PA.

The middle consolation bracket was won by Bodine, where star sophomore Alex (60 PPG) is now complemented by an impressive newcomer in Raquel (42 PPG). Though they could stand to work on adding some more depth (only 6 powers), Bodine was only a tossup cycle away in 2 games from breaking into the championship bracket. Church Farm School made their quizbowl debut in solid fashion, getting a tough introduction from the B teams of Charter and D-East before settling down to finish high in their consolation bracket. Wissahickon B capped off their day with a nice 255-250 victory over a balanced Charter C team. FSS B, also rotating through a cast of newer players, romped through the lower consolation bracket thanks to the 65+ PPG of Hannah, while the rest of the bracket was filled out by new players from the many of the other Philadelphia schools including Franklin Towne, Rush Fine Arts, and even more of Science Leadership Academy, many of whose players were making their quizbowl debuts.

Fortunately for the novice players, the Philadelphia Cheesesteak set (written by veteran quizbowl coach and writer Bill Tressler) was very accessible, particularly on the tossups. The tossups were designed around being covertable but still had challenging lead-ins, and there were a number of clues that tried to tie in current events and recent pop culture. There were some list-like clues and a few pronoun/plural issues, but most of those have been marked to get corrected and didn’t detract from the overall accessibility of the set at all. I would highly encourage other schools interested in a set that I felt was slightly harder than SCOP Novice on the bonuses but easier than NAQT IS-A sets on the tossups to use it (and its future sequels!) in your area.

-Chris

Rutgers Scarlet Knight Fall (9/23/17), Maryland Fall, and Princeton PHSAT Wrap-Ups (9/30/2017)

On two Saturdays in September, 9/23 and 9/30, seven Pennsylvania schools ventured outside of the borders of our fair state to open their quizbowl seasons. With some impressive showings all around, this year stands poised to be an extremely exciting one in Pennsylvania!

At Rutgers’ Scarlet Knight Fall tournament on 9/23, three teams from Friends Select and two from Delaware Valley began their 2017-18 campaigns. DV A finished the highest of the lot, ending up in the superplayoffs for 3rd place and claiming 5th overall. Colin Kawan-Hemler continued to lead the way with 45.65 points per game, but his teammates all added solid contributions, particlarly Frani King’s 35.22 PPG. They also won a game by the slightest of margins, 335-330, over Friends Select A. FSS A also demonstrated a balanced attack on the day, with 51.36 PPG from Richard Chen, 34.55 from Jake Shapiro, and 29.09 from Rudyard Lynch. Both teams notched key wins against top teams from the New Jersey region, as DV defeated Kellenberg A and Saint Joseph’s A, while FSS downed Princeton A. Both squads justified their preseason rankings nicely, and they look set for strong seasons ahead.

Friends Select B and C and Delaware Valley B also had good days as well, each finishing 4-7. FSS B demonstrated some balance of their own, as each of their players averaged at least a tossup per game. Jonah Taranta put in some impressive work as top scorer with 35.91 PPG. On DV B, Emma Dove led the way with 46.82 PPG, with strong support from Chris Secular. It’s certainly exciting to see programs continue to develop strong players for the future! Full stats for the Scarlet Knight Fall tournament can be found at this link.

Downingtown STEM and Lehigh Valley Academy each went 7-4 and finished 4th and 5th, respectively, against a challenging field on a housewritten set at Maryland Fall at the University of Maryland. STEM’s Vishwa Shanmugam compiled an especially impressive statline, scoring 103.18 points per game on the day, with 59 powers to 33 10s. The team as a whole added a major feather to its cap with a 430-290 win over Maryland power Montgomery Blair A, and they also scored a 435-275 victory over preseason #1 Lehigh Valley Academy. Alex Schmidt played solo on the day and put up nothing less than the spectacular numbers we’ve come to expect from him, going 60/67/8 for 139.09 PPG. Aside from one ten point victory against Thomas Jefferson C, though, his matches had high variance, as he either won big (including getting all 20 tossups against TJ D) or lost by a decent margin. Nonetheless, both teams should be proud of their excellent work at a difficult tournament! Stats for the day can be found here. You can also see an extremely cool breakdown of points by category for teams and players here.

Three more Pennsylvania schools, Downingtown EastHenderson, and “Western Lehigh”, played at Princeton on NAQT IS-168. Downingtown East and Henderson A played in the “competitive” division, while Henderson B and Western Lehigh were in the “standard” division. D-East had a relatively tough go of it, going 2-4 in the morning rounds and 4-6 on the day, but well-deserved plaudits must be given to GPQB contributor Jackie Wu for leading the competitive division in the prelim rounds with 69.17 PPG. Henderson A had a strong day, going 4-2 in the preliminaries and earning a place in the second afternoon bracket. They were led by last year’s GPQB JV Player of the Year, Vijay Anne, with 58.33 PPG in their impressive morning performance, with good support from teammates Aravind and Aidan. Henderson is a team clearly on the up-and-up, making for further excitement in southeastern PA tournaments to come.

In the standard division, Western Lehigh rode a strong performance from Sahil Inaganti (you can find our recent interview with him here) all the way to a third place finish. In many ways, Sahil and his team remind me of myself and my former Emmaus squad. He is clearly a strong generalist already, with further room to grow especially on points per bonus, and if his teammates can hone in on a couple of key categories, they can be a team nobody will want to face. Finally, Henderson B also acquitted themselves well on the day, going 3-3 in the morning rounds and topping their afternoon bracket. Three of their players, Will, Dhanush, and Abheya, all averaged over 20 PPG on the day, showing off their strong potential. Stats for both divisions at Princeton can be found at this link.

A brief note about posting tournament stats: Full stats from Princeton were not released until this afternoon (10/7), thus explaining the timing of this post. Posting stats a full week after the tournament is, quite frankly, not acceptable. When hosting a tournament, you should have a person whose dedicated job is to get stats completed and posted by Sunday evening at the latest. Taking some time to familiarize yourself with SQBS (here is a link to a good guide) can pay great dividends in getting stats published and available for interested teams, parents, and readers!

– Ryan

HSNCT 2017 Wrap Up – Cinderellas and Camaraderie

Last year at HSNCT, Pennsylvania set a lot of records for its performance and the teams generally exceeded expectations. This year, our students raised the bar even higher. Records were shattered, as 18 teams from 16 schools represented Pennsylvania at the event. With seven teams making the playoffs, three making the winner’s bracket, and two making the top-20 in the nation, Pennsylvania’s quantity was matched with some of its highest quality.

Full statistics for the event are here. Hunter College High A (NY) defended their national title, beating Detroit Catholic Central A (MI) in the finals.

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Winchester Thurston, PA’s biggest Cinderella run team in years, poses with their T-9th place trophy. Photo courtesy WT quizbowl’s twitter.

Winchester Thurston made waves across the tournament, becoming the first non-State College team from Pennsylvania to make the national top 10 with a T-9th place finish that almost got them to Sunday afternoon. Fresh from SSNCT’s 4th place, most pegged Thurston to do well, but not go beyond two or three Sunday rounds. WT had other ideas. Their true four-man effort from EJ, Jacob, Nathaniel, and Aiden (all of whom once again worked together and all exceeded 19 points per game) ended up resulting in a fantastic cinderella run, which included a brilliantly fought 390-335 win over Darien A (CT) to make it to T-9th. In the next round, Thurston was one question away from beating James Taylor (Katy, TX) to get into T-5th, but came up just short. To these fine young gentleman as well as (sadly retiring) Coach David Hallas, a hearty well done is in order. Winchester Thurston showed steady improvement across the course of the 2016-2017 season and I know our community will remember their efforts at HSNCT for a long, long time.

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Great Valley and Alagar Homeschool face off in round 10 of the tournament. Photo Courtesy GV Quizbowl’s twitter.

Here are some of the other storylines from PA teams at HSNCT:

  • Lehigh Valley Academy finished at T-15. They had to play Thurston in the first round of the playoffs and were upset by them, but rallied for three more wins while facing elimination each round. Alex Schmidt continues to impress, and his 130 ppg placed him 2nd among all players in America at HSNCT. With one more season left, it will be fascinating to see what he can do next to add to his growing legend. This year is the first year, ever, that PA placed two teams into the top 20 at nats. Will another team join LV up there next year?
  • Manheim Township finished at T-41. Though they lacked a signature win, they proved their continued consistency as a nationally relevant team. This senior class capped off their careers in style, as they can now claim an impressive three top-50 performances at nationals between NSC and HSNCT in separate years. All should be proud with what Manheim Township has built over the years and we hope to see their tradition continue in the future.
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Manheim Township, preparing for a Saturday morning match.

  • Four other Pennsylvania squads made the playoffs: Alagar Homeschool, State College A, Great Valley, and Delaware Valley. Due to the extraordinary number of teams, HSNCT split so that 6-4 teams with better stats got a bye and others did not. All four of these teams unfortunately lost their first playoff game and got knocked out, but Alagar Homeschool and State College did well enough to earn said bye and thus finished T-65 to GV and DV’s T-97. This was a first HSNCT playoff berth for the Alagars and Delaware Valley. Great Valley and the Alagars went head to head in round 10, and the Homeschoolers came out on top, with GV felled by too many negs, an issue that has stuck with them throughout this year and came back to haunt them at the wrong times this year.
  • Pennsylvania also put up a number of near playoff performances in 5-5 teams. Downingtown East was one of the statistically best teams to fall just short, putting up good numbers and a relatively high bonus conversion along the way but succumbing to a badly-timed lapse in the second half of their final round game. Spring Grove finished .500 in their first-ever true pyramidal tournament and hopefully they’ll stick around next year as well. Senior Adam Prusakowski made the most of his brief pyramidal high school career with 68 ppg, good for 20th in the individual standings at HSNCT out of 1472 players. We must continue to reach out to more schools in the future to find players like him at schools across PA. A young Henderson team led by freshman Vijay rolled up with a 5-5 record as well, and this young team could make a lot of noise next year. Friends Select A came up just a hair short due to one of their key players, Jake, missing the event due an emergency, but they acquitted themselves very well. Wallenpaupack, Downingtown STEM, and State College B also finished at this level, each having some solid victories and coming down to the wire in several games which could have swung either way.
  • Lower down, Lancaster Mennonite and Indiana Area finished at 4-6. Brandon Roe from Mennonite finished 27th in the country in scoring, capping off a fine career as the school’s heart and soul player. Indiana also had a nice return to form after a season in which they hadn’t done as well as the past, putting up stats in line with their past performances. Friends Select B finished 3-7, while scrappy Carver, the first public school from either of Pennsylvania’s two big cities to ever attend HSNCT, picked up a couple of wins to finish 2-8.
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PA students play a pick up trash game during a meet-up Saturday night. Great Valley, Henderson, Downingtown East, Downingtown STEM, Lancaster Mennonite, Delaware Valley, Friends Select, and Alagar Homeschool are represented in this photo.

We also continued the tradition inaugurated last year of having a meetup for all PA teams to socialize. Sam Scarfone and Vijay Anne were presented with their GPQB awards, and the students self-organized a spirited game of trash while the coaches discussed organizational plans for next year.

2017 HSNCT will be remembered for its surprises. Having moved up from regional afterthought after last season, Pennsylvania furthered its way along the path to quizbowl-wide prominence and the standard to beat is now set: get a team to Sunday afternoon (top 8). The Commonwealth’s 16 schools represented at nationals was also the 4th-highest in the country, only behind host state Georgia and more populous states California and Texas. As the circuit continues to expand, I expect 16 to look puny in the near future.*

-Ben

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Downingtown STEM, just prior to a round 2 win.

* Including SSNCT, 23 schools from Pennsylvania attended some sort of NAQT national this season.

Pennsylvania State Academic Competition Unofficial Preview and Chat 2017

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PSAC takes place within the chambers of the PA General Assembly (pictured here) and Senate. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Welcome to GPQB’s unofficial (we are completely unaffiliated with PSAC or any of the organizers) preview and coverage of the 2017 PSAC!

[Edit: We are updating unofficial scores in this Google Document; you can watch matches beginning again after lunch at 12:45 PM EST via the House stream here; we are continuing to update on Twitter and discuss in the chatroom here.]

Where else will you find a golden-voiced emcee read quality NAQT IS-level tossups alongside random “fanfare” bonus rounds of wildly varying difficulty within the beautifully furnished Pennsylvania House chambers? Where else will you find completely randomly generated schedules for each team’s two (usually!) prelim rounds that lead to extraordinarily unbalanced prelim schedules and playoff matchups based on points scored? Did we mention it’s 3 teams playing at once?

For randomness and ironic amusement value, PSAC is hard to top. Alas, it’s not ideal from a fairness perspective for a number of reasons that we detailed in our wrap-up from last year. But at least thanks to some recent reforms there aren’t tossups from the 1990s still being asked.

The format is…unique. 3 teams compete at once and first play a series of toss-up questions (which will be pyramidal NAQT IS-level questions), then each team gets a series of directed bonuses called “fanfares” that differ for each team. There’s a toss-up round, a fanfare round for each team, another toss-up round, and then a final fanfare round. And then that’s the match. The top 9 teams based on points scored in the prelims advance to the semifinals and the winners of those semis advance to the finals. Again, this is unique.

Thanks to the magic of PCN-TV, the whole competition should be streamable on video for anyone to watch (at least, that’s how it’s been in the past). Check here on Friday morning starting at 9 AM EST for hopefully a link to the video.

[Edit: PCN TV seems to be pay-only now, but you can watch a stream of the matches on the PA House stream here.]

We will be live-chatting over in the #paquizbowl chatroom and live-tweeting via @phillyquizbowl throughout the day on Friday as well starting at 9 AM.  Feel free to join us and send us any tips about match scores and such! We will update this post with a schedule if we can get one.

For newbies, PSAC is sponsored by the Chester County Intermediate Unit and allows each IU from around the state to send one representative to compete for the state title in addition to the defending champion returning from last year (which was Lehigh Valley Academy, who will return to defend their title this year). They decide the representatives in a number of ways, but usually with some kind of tournament–sometimes using pyramidal questions and other best practices, sometimes not.

Who’s representing whom this year? Well, we don’t exactly know yet! Please feel free to comment if you have information on teams competing. But here’s our best guess based on available information (read: searching Twitter and recent news articles):

[Note that some IUs just don’t send representatives sometimes; when not clear how a team got to state, we don’t say]

IU 1: Canon-McMillan

IU 2, Pittsburgh, does not appear to have a representative [this ought to be fixed, posthaste!]

IU 3: Gateway

IUs 4-5, MidWest and NWPA, do not appear to have a representative [this ought to be fixed, posthaste!]

IU 6 (Riverview): Rocky Grove
How They Got Here: Won the Riverview IU Academic Bowl.

IU 7 (Westmoreland): Burrell 

IU 8 (Appalachia): Hollidaysburg Area

IU 9, Seneca Highlands, does not appear to have a representative [this ought to be fixed, posthaste!]

IU 10 (Centre): West Branch
Hot They Got Here: Won a draw

IU 12 (Lincoln): Spring Grove
How They Got Here: Won the IU 12 Academic Competition

IU 13 (Lancaster-Lebanon): Manheim Township
How They Got Here: Won the Lancaster-Lebanon League

IU 14 (Berks County): Wyomissing Area
How They Got Here: Won the Berks IU Academic Challenge

IU 15 (Capital Area): Cedar Cliff 
How They Got Here: Won the Capital Area IU Academic Competition

IUs 16: Lewisburg Area

IU 17:  No Info Found

IU 18: Wyoming Area 

IU 19: Lakeland 

IU 20 (Colonial): Bethlehem Catholic
How They Got Here: Won the Colonial IU Academic Competition 

IU 21 (Carbon-Lehigh): Whitehall
How They Got Here: Won the Carbon-Lehigh Academic Competition

IU 22 (Bucks County): Council Rock North

IU 23 (Montgomery County): Upper Dublin
How They Got Here: Won the Montgomery County IU Academic Competition

IU 24 (Chester County): Great Valley
How They Got Here: Won the Chester County Intermediate IU’s Academic Competition

IU 25 (Delaware County): Haverford
How They Got Here: Won the Delaware Hi-Q Competition

IU 26 (Philadelphia): Friends Select
How They Got Here: Won the Philadelphia City Championships 

IU 27: No Info Found

IU 28: Armstrong 
How They Got Here: Won the Indiana County Academic League

IU 29 (Schuylkill League): Blue Mountain 
How They Got Here: Won the Schuylkill League Academic Bowl

How will these teams do at PSAC? Well, with the uncertainty (many of these teams rarely, if ever, play pyramidal quizbowl tournaments outside of their league) and randomness in the scheduling it’s basically anyone’s game. Here are the teams that we know of competing who are ranked in the Morlan national rankings and/or in our GPQB mid-season poll (note that 6 of the top 10 teams in the GPQB poll are not competing at PSAC):

Lehigh Valley Academy: 12th nationally, 2nd in PA
Manheim Township: 43rd nationally, 1st in PA
Great Valley: 94th nationally, 3rd in PA
Friends Select: 162nd nationally, 9th in PA
Lakeland: 11th in PA

That said, Blue Mountain always trains hard and finished a surprising 3rd last year at PSAC (wish they would come to some more tournaments!) and Haverford did quite well earlier this year in the JV division at Great Valley’s tournament. We don’t have very good data on the other teams for the most part, but anyone could surprise. We hope that all these teams from areas outside of the centers of quizbowl around the state will come to more weekend tournaments next year–we’d absolutely love to welcome y’all and answer any questions about the wider world of quizbowl!

D-East’s HFT Mirror Wrap-Up [4/8]

12 teams gathered in Exton on April 8th to play a full round-robin tournament on one of the toughest sets in quizbowl, the Harvard Fall Tournament, at the first spring tournament hosted by Downingtown East HS. After a full 11 rounds, D-STEM won the final over Wilmington Charter B, with Friends Select A finishing in 3rd.

Full stats are available here.

This tournament was quite competitive at the top, with the top 5 teams all within 20 points-per-game of each other (319-339 PPG). D-STEM adopted a decidedly aggressive buzzing strategy, finishing with 42 negs (well above any other team), but also grabbing the tournament win. Paced by Vishwa’s 81 PPG, STEM hung on to emerge with the victory despite some very close matches. Charter B, a power trio with all members averaging at least 35 PPG, had surprisingly easy victories over all the PA teams except for STEM, but did drop a game to in-state rival Concord. Not quite sure who will be back next year for Charter, but it’s never a good idea to count Charter out for too long in quizbowl–they’ll likely be back and active in the SEPA region next year.

Friends Select A notched the highest number of powers of any team at the tournament with 27, but struggled a bit on the bonuses with only a 15.6 PPB (though it looks like that stat could influenced by a stat error in their match against Wallenpaupack that led to unusually low PPB that round). They were followed by a less-than-full-strength State College A, who dropped a surprising match early on to Penn Manor before recovering for a 4th-place finish. Wallenpaupack had perhaps the most interesting statline of the tournament: their PPB was the highest of the tournament at 18.17, but they only amassed 5 powers over the course of the day. This is a particularly unusual difference between depth on the bonuses compared to the tossups.

Charter A followed the top teams with a solid effort that fell just short in several close games and then there was a bit of a drop-off as Concord and Friends Select B both adopted fairly aggressive buzzing strategies that didn’t quite pay off for either. Penn Manor, in one of the very rare appearances outside the Lancaster-Lebanon League, put together a respectable effort highlighted by their win over State College A. A smattering of B teams and a house fill-in team rounded out the field and should be applauded for playing such a challenging set in what was essentially a pre-nationals tournament; the top 8 teams here are all registered for at least one national championship tournament.

Hopefully this experience will come in handy as the local teams prepare for nationals in less than two months. Plenty of time to keep practicing on tougher questions to get in shape for nats!

2017 Philadelphia City Championships Wrap-Up

This year, 10 schools from the city of Philadelphia gathered for the city-wide championships, which also double as an IU tournament and qualifier for the PA state tournament in Harrisburg. This is twice the number of schools as last year’s city champs and was the capstone for a year’s worth of explosive growth in participation in Pennsylvania’s largest city. Friends Select School played host and their Center City building provided an accessible and convenient location for the festivities.

Here are the final standings and complete individual stats for the day.
[updated w/nationals qualifiers]

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City champions Friends Select A, at ease before the finals games. From L to R: Rudyard, Jake, Richard, and Emma.

Friends Select A took home the title for the second year and will be going to Harrisburg as Philly’s representative. They were the unquestioned statistical leaders of the tournament, as their PPB (points-per-bonus) was four points above the nearest other team and their 41 powers (extra points for correct early buzzes) were more than twice that of any other team. We knew this team would be good after Richard and Jake went an impressive 4-6 at last year’s HSNCT, but the addition of Rudyard and his immense “real knowledge” has multiplied their early-buzz force. This junior-heavy team is completing quite the season and only loses pop culture specialist Emma next year. Friends Select’s B, C, and D teams also dominated as the school ended up with four of the six playoff bracket spots available. Other schools will have their work cut out for them against this deep roster of teams in the future.

Carver HSES A took second place, undefeated except for their final two loses to Friends Select A (completing a best-of-three final without need for a third game). In an ending a bit reminiscent of a video game, they had to play Friends Select D, C, B, and A in that order and made it to the “final boss” before yielding. They put on one of the most enthusiastic shows around, vigorously buzzing and collecting for spirited pep talks from Coach Shan Hogan. Carver’s teams (I read for both A and B) also play very smart–though they’re not a top-tier team at the state level statistically just yet, they do not make bad negs, they communicate well on bonuses, and they constantly encourage each other and high-five after good buzzes. This allows them to consistently punch above their weight and makes them a blast to read for. Their B team also earned several impressive wins throughout the day (including one over Masterman A) and showed a great deal of growth over the past few tournaments.

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Carver A receives advice from Coach Hogan before a match.

Central took the last remaining playoff berth. They went 5-4 on the day but did so against a brutal schedule. Though Central lacks an all-around power player outside of Marley (who had to leave in the afternoon, somewhat lowering their final PPB), all of their team scored well and they seem to get wins in a workmanlike fashion. Bodine and Rush finished tops in the Middle bracket. They were lead by the tournament’s second and first overall scorers, respectively. Bodine’s Alexandra, just a freshman, is going to be a top-flight player very soon, as she scores in volume and just needs to push up the power rate and focus during some rounds. Meanwhile, Rush deployed something of a secret weapon in Tara, who blasted 72 points per game in her first pyramidal invitational and consistently improved throughout the day. Awesome job by both.

The back end of the tournament contained a lot of newer or first time entrants from the city: Masterman, the Academy at Palumbo, and Furness all played their first quizbowl tournaments and each came away with at least one win. Franklin Learning Center and Franklin Towne Charter also returned and saw FLC win the battle of the Franklins by a combined 25 points over both FTC teams. It was good to see all of these teams participating and learning in this local environment; I saw some good buzzes from them and with continued regular events in the city, they will all improve in no time.

Overall, this was a nice example of how state qualifier/IU tournaments can run on good questions, use a fair format that allows teams to play many games (rather than just 1 or 2), and cater to teams of all levels of ability. The tournament was wrapped up before 3 PM and some teams finished as early as 2:15 or so. High School quizbowl in Philadelphia is rising and has so much potential, and we look forward to seeing its continuing development in future years!

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Franklin Learning Center vs. Academy at Palumbo, which occurred in round 5. Palumbo won a close match, 170-145.

-Ben Herman