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How to Highlight Quizbowl on College Apps

I’ve heard a lot of people in the quizbowl community ask how to effectively talk about quizbowl on college applications. While I’m not an expert at the admissions process, quizbowl was a major part of my high school experience so it came up quite a bit in my own application essays and interviews. Even after two years of college, I’m still pretty involved and frequently refer to my current quizbowl responsibilities in cover letters and conversations with internship recruiters. Building on what I wrote in this post last fall, here are some more specific ideas for framing skills from your high school quizbowl experience on college apps (and maybe even internship/job apps as well).

Disclaimer: A lot of people (admissions officers and alumni interviewers included) don’t really know what quizbowl is, so make sure you have a quick explanation on hand. You can use “it’s like Jeopardy! with teams” if you really want to, but I usually go with something about “interscholastic academic competition.” Specific details about question pyramidality or tossup/bonus formats might be too much detail for this purpose.

College admissions committees are looking for students to demonstrate how they are motivated, intellectually curious, hard-working, and so on (basically any other positive trait that you can clearly outline). Here are some skills from playing quizbowl you could highlight:

  • Intellectual curiosity: If you play quizbowl, you probably enjoy learning more than people who wouldn’t spend their free time studying and picking up knowledge about literature, history, science, or whatever subject you’re into. Maybe studying Renaissance paintings sparked an interest in art history. This is a great tidbit to bring up in an essay or interview; even (or especially) if you’re convinced you want to major in astrophysics or something else that isn’t art, it’s good to show you’re well-rounded and passionate about a variety of things.
  • Teamwork: If you have teammates, you most likely had to learn to work with them, whether to confer well during bonuses or to maintain team chemistry at tournaments. If you’ve helped to organize an event or put a set together, you’ve had to figure out communication and problem-solving there. Emphasizing the interpersonal skills that come from experience on a team shows that you can succeed and contribute positively in student orgs and future collaborative tasks.
  • Self-motivation: Maybe after noticing your team was missing every mythology tossup, you read up on myth systems last summer and have never missed a tossup on Norse gods since. If you can get yourself to do difficult tasks and overcome challenges, highlight your sense of drive and work ethic.
  • Commitment: This can be shown through anything you’ve consistently pursued without giving up. Several years of substantial involvement in quizbowl (or any other extracurricular) and following through on duties can show commitment.
  • Leadership: Captains and club officers have experience working with different personalities and handling an array of responsibilities, from leading practices and boosting team morale to recruiting new members and even registering for tournaments, depending on how involved the coach is. With or without an explicitly outlined leadership role, you can show initiative and leadership skills in ways like mentoring younger players. For my own college apps, I wrote about taking initiative in directing events and pursuing outreach efforts.
  • Creativity: I’ve seen people come up with pretty creative ideas for studying, online leagues, fun practice activities, and more. Thinking outside the box is a valuable skill to emphasize for college, and there are plenty of ways to show creativity in conjunction with leadership and teamwork abilities.
  • Community service: Whether hosted at your school or somewhere else, staffing tournaments (reading, scorekeeping, doing stats, or in any other role) is a great way to give back to the quizbowl community, and you can definitely show this on an application. Other volunteer experiences could include things like helping out with your middle school’s team.

Depending on what your time in quizbowl has involved, there are countless other aspects you could highlight as well. A huge part of a successful college (or internship/job) application is just effectively communicating the skills you have and your capacity for growth. Playing tournaments, writing questions, moderating, and organizing events are enriching experiences, and you can use them to your advantage in showcasing who you are. Good luck, and feel free to comment or reach out for advice!

Jackie

GPQB Awards, 2019-2020

Friends,

It is with pleasure that we can announce another round of our annual awards for playing and coaching. Every year, our decision is a hard one. There are so many diligent players and coaches around the state that to award them all would be impossible. This year, all three awardees have demonstrated heart and passion about quizbowl that we can all appreciate. We hope they can inspire more like them as the community continues to grow. Without further ado:

Congratulations to Will Steger of Manheim Township High School for winning Player of the Year for 2019-2020. This award recognizes his strong skills on the buzzer, particularly in the category of history, but perhaps even more importantly, his leadership skills. His diligence and discipline at practice, studying outside practice, and on tournament day have inspired his teammates and fellow competitors to in turn improve themselves and learn more. In this respect, Will represents what Pennsylvania quizbowl is all about: knowledge with character.

Congratulations to AZ Faiz of Manheim Township High School for winning JV Player of the Year for 2019-2020. AZ broke out in his sophomore season to become one of Pennsylvania’s top literature and fine arts players, scoring in bundles. Not since Alex Schmidt have we seen a player as well developed and confident at his age, and AZ’s rapid improvement has contributed to some major wins over nationally ranked programs.

Congratulations to Shan Hogan of Carver High School of Engineering and Science for winning Coach of the Year for 2019-2020. Shan has an enthusiasm for quizbowl which is infectious. Her many students at Carver and everyone else around the circuit recognize her chutzpah and mettle as she shares that passion and mentors her students. This year, Carver qualified for HSNCT, which is a big feat for a school that has less resources than many of their competitors. In addition, this award is in recognition of Shan’s exemplary tournament direction of the Philadelphia City Championship.

We congratulate all this year’s winners on a job well done, and can’t wait to see what’s next for them.

-The Staff

Announcement: GPQB All State Teams, 2019-2020

Friends,

In this time of pandemic, we are all facing loss and difficulties. The quizbowl season has been cut short, and this year will unfortunately not feature any nationals events. While this is a devastating loss for us all, we still had five months of hard work studying and great buzzer play to go on, and thus GPQB will name all-state teams as always. We particularly salute this year’s seniors, who had to end their quizbowl career so abruptly. Without further ado, here are your GPQB All-State Teams for the 2019-2020 quizbowl season:

First Team All-State

  • Vijay Anne, Henderson High School
  • AZ Faiz, Manheim Township High School
  • Connor Mayers, Penn Manor High School
  • Will Steger, Manheim Township High School
  • Albert Zhang, State College High School

Second Team All-State

  • Matt D’Annunzio, Friends Select School
  • Chris Goodrich, Oxford High School
  • John Li, Great Valley High School
  • Anish Kodali, Great Valley High School
  • Rishi Raman, Great Valley High School

Honorable Mentions

  • Carsten Brodbeck, Hempfield High School
  • Luke Capper, Trinity High School
  • Vikram Chodapaneedi, Henderson High School
  • Eddie Fuhrer, Kiski Area High School
  • Nolan Greenways, Great Valley High School
  • Noah Harrigan, Great Valley High School
  • Anshu Nunemanthala, Great Valley High School

We commend all these students on their hard work this season.

-The staff

Carnegie Quiz III Wrap-Up (2/15/20)

The third annual Carnegie Quiz tournament took place at the CMU campus in Pittsburgh yesterday, featuring 21 teams from 13 schools. The event used the NAQT IS-190 question set.

Stats are here.

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Members of Allderdice A and B after the tournament

First place went to George Washington (WV), whose undefeated record was most seriously threatened by Allderdice A in the 370-310 final game. With a balanced core of Truman, Simon, and Sam supported by Teadora in the prelim matches, Allderdice A broke 300 points per game (PPG) every round and finished with 20.41 points per bonus (PPB).

Third place went to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in their highest finish this year. Jude and Joe (10th and 13th in individual prelims PPG) combined with teammates Nathan, Xander, and John to come within 70 of beating George Washington in round 3. Allderdice B was led by Michal and Omri with contributions from Antonia and Jonah, taking fourth place with the most powers of any PA team (49). They put up an incredible 10 powers in a 395-195 win over fifth place Kiski, which consisted of Eddie playing solo. Eddie scored 27 powers to only 6 negs over 9 games and was the only triple-digit individual scorer in the field. Winchester Thurston finished in sixth, playing with their full A-team lineup for the first time this year. Though their winning streak from the prelim rounds did not continue in the afternoon, Johnny, CB, Andy, and Ben kept all their games relatively close and managed a 20.37 PPB, the third highest in the tournament. With more practice competing together, they seem poised to perform well at their fourth SSNCT in April.

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Central Catholic

Mt. Lebanon A finished at the top of the first consolation bracket, unfortunately kept out of the championship bracket by two morning losses by margins of under 50 points. Mt. Lebanon B was led by star player Antonio, whose 31/36/16 stat line included a 6/7/0 showing against Morgantown A (WV). Andrew, Ishika, and Cameron of Shady Side performed well on their first regular-difficulty set of the year, while Hampton A, led by Tad and Hayden, rounded out the bracket.

The remaining two brackets featured teams from aforementioned schools as well as Archbishop Ryan (on a trip over from Philadelphia), 2020 SSNCT competitor Sharpsville, and other Pittsburgh circuit regulars Penn Hills and Kane. While the IS set had a variety of difficult answerlines and challenging bonus parts that led to relatively low scoring totals, all the teams put themselves to the test and competed admirably.

I had a great time directing this tournament and enjoyed getting to watch talented players perform well on a challenging set! I look forward to seeing many of these teams at Pitt’s Battle of the Burgh next month.

-Jackie

Manheim Township Academic Challenge 2019 Wrap-Up (12/14/19)

42 teams were on hand to contest a Varsity and Junior Varsity title at Manheim Township in Lancaster last Saturday. It was a fun, breezy day, enjoyed by students and staff alike. As is always the case with MTHS tournaments, it ran just about flawlessly and students got to go home with a quality tournament in record time.

Full Stats Are Here.

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Penn Manor with their 1st place trophy. Photo courtesy the Penn Manor Quizbowl team.

Varsity Division

Southeast PA has seen a chaotic season at the top, with many teams getting tournament victories. This time, it was Penn Manor‘s turn to take home the first place trophy. While never down as far as in their legendary comeback to take 3rd at last year’s iteration of the tournament, Penn Manor trailed by 105 points at half time in the final. They stormed back, however, to clinch on tossup 19. Connor once again led a tournament in scoring with 148 points per game, which was more than forty above the nearest player. They were undefeated on the day. Great Valley A took second place behind yet another strong all around tournament. All four players scored between 27 and 44 points per game. They seem adroit all around the distribution, particularly history. Penn Manor seemed to be a better tossup team than bonus team, while GV was more equal across the two.

Great Valley almost has enough players for two A teams, as the B team finished just behind them and took 3rd. I continue to be impressed by how focused GV B plays, and for an ostensibly younger team, they are remarkably free from forced errors or mistakes. Henderson nabbed 4th place. They powered a bit less than normal this time, but overall are still a rock solid team, particularly on categories like current events and geography. Henderson’s Vijay had 83 points per game, good for 5th overall individually. Friends Select took 5th place, and led the tournament in bonus conversion. Indeed, in points per game, the top five were all basically on top of one another. It will be fascinating to see how these teams shake out and separate themselves come nationals.

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Great Valley B with their 3rd place trophy.

6th place went to Hempfield. Their 45 powers was in line with the top teams, so they’re clearly in no rebuild to speak of after last year’s title team. The one-two punch of Carsten and Sebastian provided a lot of early buzzes. Otherwise in the playoff brackets of Varsity, Henderson B and Great Valley C tied for 7th, Mechanicsburg and Wilton from Connecticut took 9th, and Lancaster Mennonite and Emmaus A tied for 11th. I’m happy to see Mechanicsburg doing well, as this was their season debut. They showed a lot of promise last year when they did play, and it looks like those players have become quite formidable in the time since we’ve seen them. The other schools all looked strong, with points per bonuses in the 18+ range and several strong individual performances.

In Varsity consolation, we saw a variety of nice performances as well. Huntingdon had two teams play, and Andrew from Huntingdon B finished 4th overall in scoring for the tournament. Carver E & S A wowed with 20.5 points per bonus, which was nearly as high tournament champ Penn Manor. This suggests a bit of buzzer shyness; overcome that and they might threaten for the Philly City title this year. Central Dauphin braved the Varsity bracket at their very first pyramidal invitational, and did admirably, going 3-4 and making a nice 17/9 power to neg ratio. They have plenty of potential. Cedar Crest A, Bermudian Springs A, a house team, and several B-D teams rounded out the bracket.

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Oxford A, en route to their JV title at Manheim Township.

JV Division

In the JV bracket, Oxford A stormed through the competition undefeated, to win their first tournament in school history. Oxford was dominant on history and science especially, and they are absolutely now ready to graduate to Varsity play, just under a year from their first tournament. Chris’ 107.5 points per game on a 9/30/1 line was good for second overall in the JV division. Henderson C took second place. Cedar Crest B came in 3rd, and Delaware’s Tower Hill school finished in 4th. All of these schools acquitted themselves well, and had stats exceeding a few Varsity teams! Max from Tower Hill edged out Chris from Oxford by one point to lead the JV players in scoring, and Cedar Crest B’s Danny was the third scorer with 75 ppg.

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West York, enjoying their first taste of Saturday quizbowl.

Elsewhere, West York made their tournament debut and did swimmingly. I had the chance to read several games from them, and while there were a few new-team type mistakes, they also had a lot of good buzzes. They have potential to become a contender in South-Central PA. Speaking of, Waynesboro returned to action and also did well, going 6-1 overall on the day with several big wins over 200 points as well as a clutch five point win. Montgomery and Midd-West made the trek down from Northeastern PA and also had a number of good buzzes. With studying, the wins are sure to follow. The rest of the JV day was filled out with freshmen and sophomore players from stalwart schools who gained valuable buzzer experience.

This was a fun day, and once again, the hosts should be commended for a well run tournament. We wish all our readers happy holidays and a happy New Year, and we will resume play at Great Valley high school just after the start of 2020.

-Ben

Henderson Invitational 2019 Wrap-Up (11/23/2019)

Last Saturday, 36 teams were on hand in West Chester for the latest installment of the Henderson Invitational Tournament. The result was a well-run and enjoyable day, filled with interesting and surprising results.

Stats can be found here.

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Great Valley A with their first place trophy.

The tournament victory went to Great Valley A, who notched their program’s first of the season. They breezed through the first nine rounds, but took a weird 5 point loss to their own C team in round 10 due to uncharacteristically poor bonus conversion (Great Valley has a history of beating themselves in tight situations). They still secured a spot in the finals, where they faced a formidable Manheim Township A squad that went into the final undefeated. Down 250-95 at halftime, Great Valley rallied to get 7 of the next 8 tossups to take a 90 point lead. Their neg on tossup 19 briefly put the game back in play, but Manheim Township could not get enough points on the bonus, thus sealing the win for Great Valley. Great Valley was remarkably balanced, as John, Rishi, Anshu, and Noah each had between 30 and 57 points per game and all had over 15 powers. This performance shows that Great Valley comes ready to play and can respond well to adversity.

As for Manheim Township A, the sample size is large enough that we can say that at this juncture, they look to be the statistically strongest team in the state so far. Their 23.52 points per bonus on a regular difficulty set was almost two higher than any other team in the field, and they averaged over 10 powers per game. These numbers are incredible. While they’ve lost in the final at two straight invitationals, the talent is absolutely there and once they can close the deal, they might be unstoppable. Will and AZ finished 2nd and 6th in individual scoring for the tournament, and Sanya and Ellie are rounding into excellent specialists, with each providing over a power a game.

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Trinity A poses with their 4th place trophy.

Great Valley B took third. They look just as deep as the A team, with four excellent scorers. Outside of a slightly lower power rate, their stats are almost a doppelganger for their A team, and Great Valley could quite honestly become the first school of the GPQB poll era to have two teams in the top 5 by year’s end. Trinity Catholic High School from Camp Hill finished in 4th. As the breakout team of last season, expectations were high but uncertain coming in. With this performance, they have put any doubts about their chops to rest. I read for them twice, and in those games they showed a few new-team knowledge gaps, but played with good strategy and teamwork. Luke’s 61 ppg was in the top 10 for the event.

Trinity’s 4th place finish came with a last question clinch over Penn Manor in round seven, who would in turn play Hempfield for 5th. The later team won that match. As last year’s state champions, Hempfield had quite a bit to replace, but it turns out much of the replacement was hiding in plain sight. Carsten was good last year, but was clearly under some shadow effect. Here, he broke out for 72 points per game, 4th overall, which would make any of his teammates on the state title team proud and established him as a major one to watch. They also debuted freshman Sebastian, brother of last year’s player of the year Will Yaeger, to a cool 30 points per game. Penn Manor continues to be a solid team, once again with their scoring coming mostly from Connor, who notched yet another scoring title with 121 points per game.

Also making the playoffs were Friends Select A and B, Manheim Township B, Great Valley C, a house team from Henderson (mostly their B and C team players), and New Jersey’s Ranney school. This was our first look at full strength FSS this year, and they looked quality as always. Their power rate is notably behind other top teams right now, which possibly explains the 7th place finish. Don’t overlook them, however, as they could just be warming up. Meanwhile, all of these PA schools shows continue to show depth, and will remain factors for years.

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Renaissance A enjoying their Henderson Invitational experience.

In first consolation, Downingtown East B took top honors, with a 7-3 record and an undefeated afternoon. Many of their wins were close and clutch, particularly a 25 ppb performance against Emmaus A in round seven which allowed them a rare win with only eight tossups answered. Oxford A also stood out as an up-and-coming team. Traditionally a bottom dweller in the Chester County league, Oxford has made great strides of late, and seem to be studying hard. Chris’ 79 points per game was 3rd at the event and lead them to a winning record. Lancaster Mennonite and Cedar Crest A represented the Lancaster-Lebanon league well, with several strong wins. While perhaps not strong enough to challenge the top 3 in the Lanc-Leb circuit yet, they have enough raw talent to build for more and better down the road. Downingtown East’s A team also made this bracket.

Lower on down, we saw new look Camp Hill return to the circuit in the midst of a coaching change and full scale rebuild. With 15 points per bonus, they have a good bit to work with, and they remain one of Pennsylvania’s top small schools. PALCS and Renaissance Academy, two Chester County charters, also played and got in a number of good buzzes. I was also encouraged by two new school debuts. West Chester Rustin, one of Henderson’s sister schools, made its first pyramidal tournament at this event. They went 3-7, and had a lot of deep knowledge that impressed many moderators. John Paul II high school also returned to the invitational circuit for the first time in a few years, and performed well for a group of inexperienced players. We hope to see both again very soon.

As a Henderson alum, it’s always wonderful to go back and staff there, and see how so many players enjoy the game. I saw a lot of happy people yesterday, and that’s the best part of any quizbowl tournament. Happy Thanksgiving to all GPQB readers!

-Ben

Philly Fall Invitational Wrap-Up (11/9/19)

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!

Open Division:

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Henderson A (Abheya Nair, Vikram Chodapaneedi, Vijay Anne, and Colin Pancelli) with their first-place Open Division trophy (photo courtesy FSS Quizbowl)

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.

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Manheim Township A (A.Z. Faiz, Scotty Reynolds, Will Steger, and Sanya Nair) with their second-place Open Division trophy

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.

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Great Valley A (Noah Harrigan, John Li, Anshu Nunemunthala, Rishi Raman) with their third-place Open Division trophy

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!

Novice Division:

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Great Valley E (Nikhil Knot, Leo Makalsky, Dylan Xu) with their second-place Novice Division trophy (photo courtesy Carver Quizbowl)

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.

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Moravian C (Okezue Ball, Rohan Mehta, Michael Alchaer, Maclaine Oskin, and Audrey Dai) with their third-place Novice Division trophy (photo courtesy Carver Quizbowl)

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!

-Ryan Bilger

Tri-State Tussle V Wrap-Up (10/26/19)

The 2019-20 quizbowl season kicked off in northeastern PA this past weekend at Delaware Valley High School’s fifth annual Tri-State Tussle. While a New York squad took home the victory, several Pennsylvania teams acquitted themselves nicely as well.

Stats are here.

Ithaca A cleared the field with a 10-0 record to claim first place. This perennial national power really never had to break a sweat, with an average margin of victory of 437 points. Their B team finished second with a 3-2 afternoon record and 297 points per game.

Moravian A took third place on the day, in the highest finish for a Pennsylvania team. Their only two losses on the day were at the hands of Ithaca A and Emmaus A, and they also notched an exciting 310-305 victory over Ithaca B. Alex Adams again finished as their top scorer with 56.11 PPG, but each team member averaged at least one tossup get per game, with Neil Deshmukh adding 11 powers. Moravian has been slowly building up strength over the years, and I know I’m interested to see if another Lehigh Valley school can take that next step.

4th place went to the hosts, Delaware Valley A. This year marks the start of a new era for DV, with their high-scoring players of the past few seasons having moved on. The balanced attack seems to be their strategy once again, with three players (JD Flick, Darius Bermudez, and Lucas Helms) averaging 30 PPG or more and 4th scorer Aodhan Young contributing a tossup per game. DV should set their sights on the top spot in the northeast again this year, with the potential to break into the state rankings with some concerted studying.

Emmaus A took fifth place on the day, with their extra prelim loss to Ithaca A bumping them down by virtue of their 6-4 record. Aside from the two games against Ithaca A, Emmaus seemed to match up pretty well against the other teams in the top bracket, losing only 230-290 to DV A and 285-295 to Ithaca B, in addition to the 260-230 win over Moravian A. Aidan Springs led the way with 41.00 PPG, and they also had the best neg control of any team in the playoffs, with just 13 on the day. Emmaus and Moravian most likely will be the top two teams in the Lehigh Valley this year, and I look forward to potentially seeing them match up again at future tournaments to determine who comes out on top. Pingry B (New Jersey) rounded out the top bracket.

3 Pennsylvania teams made the second bracket, with Lakeland A finishing tops among them. David Campbell’s 87.50 PPG made him the third-overall scorer on the day and the highest-scoring PA player. He looks to be a strong player, but will need some more help from his teammates to challenge Delaware Valley for regional dominance in the northeast. Wallenpaupack A finished 4-4 for the tournament, including a 320-190 win over Lakeland A. Gavin Hearn led the team in scoring with 53.75 PPG, with Tom Lane playing a good second chair with 29.38 PPG. Moravian B ended the day at 5-4, demonstrating that they have some potential future talent to watch for in the pipeline, particularly Divlik Verma and Samit Mohapatra, who finished quite close to one another with 35.00 and 34.44 PPG, respectively.

B and C teams from the aforementioned schools filled out the lower brackets, along with Tower Hill out of Delaware and Berwick, who ended the day on a positive note with a victory over Moravian C. Overall, these teams will be glad to be off the mark and rolling into another exciting PA quizbowl season!

-Ryan

Mellon Bowl XVII Wrap-Up (10/26/19)

This past Saturday, 21 teams from 13 schools gathered at Carnegie Mellon University for the first Pittsburgh event of the season. The tournament used the SCOP Novice 10 set and showcased impressive performances from several new schools.

Stats are linked here.

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Mt. Lebanon A with their second place trophy

First place went to a strong Winchester Thurston A, who narrowly defeated first-time attendee Mount Lebanon A 205-145 in a close half-packet final. Mt. Lebanon was led by Katherine’s 74 PPG in the prelims and also had significant scoring from Nathan, Jacob, Sein, and Daniel, who each contributed a few buzzes per game. Their overall PPB of 23.68 indicates great depth, even across subjects like literature that tend to be more difficult for new teams.

North Catholic A, Allderdice White, and Hampton A finished tied for 3rd with identical 2-3 playoff records. North Catholic and Hampton, led by Ryan and Kate respectively, ended with impressive overall PPBs of 23.37 and 22.73. Teadora’s 96 PPG in the prelims helped Allderdice to an undefeated morning, and it was great to see the program’s usual A team volunteering as staff. Central Catholic‘s team finished 6th with balanced scoring and a high 23.18 PPB.

First-time entrant Kiski consisted of Eddie playing solo, scoring an incredible 123 PPG at his first pyramidal tournament. He managed a very solid 19.40 overall PPB on his own and avenged a 5-point morning loss to South Side A with a 380-260 victory in the afternoon. South Side’s overall ratio of 32 powers to 4 negs stood in stark contrast to some competitors’ neg counts that were almost four or five times as high, suggesting great control and the potential to be even more aggressive on the buzzer in the future. Back in action after a two-year hiatus, Norwin A combined the talents of Lily, Lydia, and Emily to go 6-2 on the day, their only prelim loss being a 295-300 game against North Catholic. Allderdice Green and Mt. Lebanon B rounded out the second bracket.

It was great to see enthusiastic players from YoughBishop CanevinPenn Hills, Salisbury-Elk Lick, and additional teams from previously mentioned schools in the remaining two afternoon brackets. Many of these teams’ lead scorers were already putting up early buzzes in several categories, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to develop at future tournaments.

All the teams seemed to have a lot of fun competing on the SCOP 10 set, and we’re excited to see many of them playing again at Pitt’s SAGACITY XV tournament next month!

-Jackie

Nittany Lion Novice V Wrap-Up (10/12/19)

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.

Tournament Runners-Up State College A with their 2nd Place trophy. Photo courtesy Ananya Tadigadapa.

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.

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Pleasant Valley A was all smiles before round 3.

Impressive performances by new and old schools also headlined the consolation brackets. Ithaca A and Bishop McDevitt B tied to win the first consolation bracketDuBois 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.

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Bishop McDevitt B enjoying the preliminary Rounds.

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!

-Ben