Tag Archives: top 25

2018 Collegiate Quizbowl Nationals Preview

The following nationals preview draws on a midseason poll carried out on the forums, and on an IRC discussion rundown of each of the teams on that poll. As such, it does not represent the opinion of any one person, the official views of hsquizbowl.org, or anything like that. Thanks to all those who participated in the poll and to the all who contributed by participating in the subsequent discussion.

25. University of Florida (preseason ranking: unranked)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Taylor Harvey, John Lievonen, Jonathen Settle, Alex Shaw
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Taylor Harvey, Tracy Mirkin, Jonathen Settle, Alex Shaw
This year, Florida has established itself as clearly the best team in the southeastern United States. That success is powered first and foremost by Taylor Harvey, who has demonstrated the ability to scale his literature-focused humanities knowledge to higher difficulty. Alex Shaw has similar strengths to Harvey, and physicist Jonathen Settle is the team’s designated science player. At ACF Nationals, Florida will boast one of the top freshmen in the country in Tracy Mirkin. At ACF Regionals, Mirkin matched Harvey buzz-for-buzz, contributing mostly on history, and his strong showing at the Auburn site of Cal’s Mid-Spring Tournament (CMST) showed that his abilities are not limited to regular-difficulty questions. However, Mirkin will compete in Division II at ICT; in his place, Florida’s A team will add John Lievonen, who brings strength on the NAQT specialty of current events.

24. Johns Hopkins University (preseason ranking: unranked)
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Eric Bobrow, Robert Chu, Seth Ebner, Noah Stanco
The addition of Robert Chu, formerly of Harvard, has been key for Hopkins, which has vied all year for the title of best team south of the Mason–Dixon line. The partnership of Bobrow and Chu has dominated local rival Maryland, winning all three games so far this year against Maryland; in addition, a Johns Hopkins team without Chu beat the full Maryland team at Penn Bowl. Results against other local powers Virginia and Duke have been spottier, and the general weakness of the Mid-Atlantic region (a far cry from years past) has contributed to Johns Hopkins’s relatively low ranking. Johns Hopkins is very strong on science, as physics PhD student Bobrow and medical student Chu can buzz in their subject areas, but both also possess significant strength elsewhere, particularly in the arts. At ACF Nationals, that pair will be joined by Seth Ebner (formerly of Washington University in St. Louis) and Noah Stanco. Hopkins will not be playing Division I ICT, but the school’s massive stable of Division II-eligible players (including every current member of the club except Chu and Ebner) should produce a strong showing in that category this year at Rosemont.

23. University of Maryland (preseason ranking: 24)
Projected lineup: Weijia Cheng, Justin Hawkins, Jack Nolan, Graham Reid
After 26 years, Maryland finally got over the hump in 2017 and won its first ever ACF Nationals championship. Maryland now faces the challenge of replacing Jordan Brownstein, arguably the second-best player of all time, as well as two of his teammates. Unlike Brownstein’s Maryland teams, where his dominance on all non-science categories was augmented by small contributions from his supporting cast, this year’s Maryland team is more balanced, with one player taking each of history, science, and literature. The lead role in the rebuilding effort is being played by Weijia Cheng, the only holdover from last year’s national championship team. Cheng was a religion and economics specialist alongside Brownstein, but this year he has demonstrated his ability as a high-level history player. He is joined by New Hampshirite physics PhD student Graham Reid, formerly of Kenyon, who combines science knowledge with college-level generalist ability from his undergraduate days. Rounding out the team are Justin Hawkins, whose unbridled enthusiasm for the game has made him into a solid literature player, and Jack Nolan, whose strengths lie in music and math. This team scales reasonably well, as demonstrated by their respectable performance at the Maryland site of CMST (including one victory in two games against WUSTL). This iteration of Maryland will not do as well at either national championship this year as Maryland has routinely placed in years past, but with every team member returning next year the future for Maryland is bright.

22. University of Oxford (preseason ranking: 22)
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Isaac Brown, George Charlson, Daoud Jackson, Jacob Robertson
Since last year, Oxford has lost the British player best known to Americans, Joey Goldman, as well as well-regarded scientist George Corfield. Moreover, the Oxonians lost to rival Cambridge the position they had long held as the best quizbowl team outside North America. Because the only time that an American team competes against British teams during the regular season is when Chicago flies to Britain to play Oxford’s own tournament, we have no direct evidence of how this year’s Oxford team will fare against American teams. Nevertheless, voters still thought highly enough of Oxford to accord them a spot in the top twenty-five. Oxford’s best player is Daoud Jackson, who is particularly accomplished in fine arts and literature. He is supported by fellow humanities players George Charlson and Isaac Brown, the latter of whom has been largely absent from the British circuit this year due to studying abroad in France. Oxford’s science will be handled by Jacob Robertson, who has been described as the most improved player in Britain. As usual, Oxford and Cambridge will not compete at ICT, so ACF Nationals will be the only chance for those teams to prove themselves against American competition. In a year where Cambridge has been the recipient of foreign attention, Oxford has the potential to surprise with a strong showing at ACF Nationals.

21. Michigan State University (preseason ranking: 21)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Erik Bubolz, Harris Bunker, Tony Incorvati, Jakob Myers
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Erik Bubolz, Harris Bunker, Jakob Myers, Evan Suttell
Thanks to high-flying freshman Jakob Myers, the upset risk that Michigan State poses to higher-ranked teams is greater than that posed by most teams in this part of the rankings. Already this year, Michigan State has dealt multiple defeats at regular difficulty to Chicago A, along with a win over a full-strength Ohio State team at the Illinois site of ACF Regionals. However, outside of Myers’s core area of history and related fields, Michigan State may have a hard time consistently getting buzzes at higher difficulty, meaning that the Spartans’ success will be largely packet-dependent. The ICT distribution will be significantly kinder to this team than that of ACF Nationals, a problem compounded by Michigan State’s lack of science coverage at ACF Nationals thanks to the absence of science specialist Tony Incorvati. At any rate, Michigan State this year will strike fear into many an opposing team.

20. University of Toronto (preseason ranking: 14)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Jay Misuk, Rein Otsason, Aayush Rajasekaran, Simone Valade
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Rein Otsason, Aayush Rajasekaran, Christopher Sims
With the arrival of Patrick Liao and Aayush Rajasekaran (who, rather confusingly, remained enrolled as a graduate student at Waterloo while also enrolling at Toronto) to join Jay Misuk and Rein Otsason, Toronto seemed last year to have formed a Canadian dream team. Toronto did in fact play well last year, finishing in a respectable sixteenth place at ACF Nationals and tied for eleventh at ICT, but outside Canada their performance was overshadowed by McGill. Liao, who had been the only US national champion playing in Canada, is now no longer with the Toronto team, and Toronto’s ranking reflects that. Nevertheless, Toronto retains Otsason, whose science knowledge helps make him the consensus choice for best player in Ontario, and at ICT Misuk’s history knowledge will help as well. Like last year, Toronto this year is a team that should do better at ICT than at ACF Nationals.

19. Washington University in St. Louis (preseason ranking: 16)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Patrick Butenhoff, Charles Hang, Jonathan Mishory, Alex Newman
It had previously been reported that this was to be the last year for Charles Hang, who has represented Washington University since 2009, but he has announced that he will be returning to WUSTL for one more season. This year, Hang and his team will only play ICT, as his unavailability at ACF Regionals led to WUSTL failing to qualify for ACF Nationals. As always, Hang remains a fearsome player who combines some of the best history knowledge in the game with generalist ability from his many years of experience. Will Mason and Seth Ebner have both moved on, but Patrick Butenhoff is still around as Hang’s sidekick. Two other players who have been with the WUSTL A team this year, Cyrus Zhou and Lily Hamer, are both eligible for Division II at ICT. The Division I ICT team will instead feature junior Jonathan Mishory and sophomore Alex Newman, the latter of whom put up impressive numbers at this year’s SCT.

18. University of Virginia (preseason ranking: 19)
Projected lineup: Vasa Clarke, Nick Collins, Lawrence Simon, Eric Xu
Ever since the departure of Matt Bollinger and Tommy Casalaspi, Virginia’s lineup has been very stable, with Virginia A for two straight years fielding a roster of Eric Xu, Vasa Clarke, Lawrence Simon, and Jack Mehr. In the third year of that group, Mehr has been replaced by Nick Collins, formerly of Louisiana Tech. The presence of graduate student Collins means that Virginia will no longer be competing for undergraduate titles, but his strength in literature provides a jolt for a team that had perhaps grown stagnant over the course of a long partnership. Clarke will be leaving after this year for law school at William and Mary, but Xu will presumably be around for one more year. Xu has settled into a niche as a solid but not elite player; it remains to be seen whether he can yet recapture the stardom of his high school days.

17. Duke University (preseason ranking: 20)
Projected lineup: Gabe Guedes, Ryan Humphrey, Lucian Li, Annabelle Yang
Despite losing John Stathis, who has moved one county over to study law at North Carolina, Duke has remained competitive, with their best performance of the season at regular difficulty or higher being their second-place showing at the Virginia site of ACF Regionals. To a core of science player Ryan Humphrey, literature player Gabe Guedes, and history player Lucian Li, Duke has added South Carolinian freshman Annabelle Yang, who boasts very deep knowledge in fine arts and especially in myth. A pseudo-Duke team with Stathis instead of Humphrey (who did science editing for the tournament) performed respectably this year at the Maryland site of CMST, including a victory over Ohio State, which suggests that Duke has what it takes to bounce back this year after a very disappointing finish at last year’s ICT.

16. Stanford University (preseason ranking: 9)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Nikhil Desai, Kyle Sutherlin, Nathan Weiser
Stanford is a difficult team to evaluate; now that Stephen Liu has finished law school, it is not quite clear what the composition of the Stanford A team actually is. As a result, Stanford had the largest variance between voters of any team ranked in this poll. Notably, Stanford will not be attending ACF Nationals this year. At ICT, however, they bring back excellent science player Nikhil Desai, who is back in school after taking some time off, as well as NAQT whiz and accomplished humanities player Nathan Weiser. As is often the case, Stanford brought in an excellent class of freshmen this year, so as for so many schools, 2018 will be a year of transition in Palo Alto.

15. University of Oklahoma (preseason ranking: 18)
Projected lineup: Finn Bender, Thatcher Chonka, Maia Karpovich, Caleb Kendrick
Oklahoma burst onto the quizbowl scene in 2016, finishing in the top two in Division II at both ICT and ACF Nationals and ending up at fourteenth place overall at the latter tournament. On paper, Oklahoma is a formidable team, with Caleb Kendrick’s great strength across the humanities and Maia Karpovich’s unusual combination of science ability and potent skill on geography and NAQT-type questions. Since 2016, however, Oklahoma has struggled to put together a full team for tournaments; Oklahoma played without Karpovich at ICT last year and missed ACF Nationals altogether. This year, shorthanded Oklahoma teams have generally come up short against the Sooners’ main quizbowl rival, Missouri. However, this year the full Oklahoma team will finally get to play both national championships together. It’s do or die for the Sooners this year, as next year Karpovich will head to grad school at Maryland and Caleb Kendrick will potentially decamp for parts unknown.

14. University of Michigan (preseason ranking: 17)
Projected lineup: Noah Chen, Austin Foos, Saul Hankin, Kenji Shimizu
After a spectacular two-year run consisting of four finals and two national championships, Auroni Gupta’s time at Michigan has come to a close, as has Will Nediger’s, while Brian McPeak has retired from active intercollegiate competition. With Siddhant Dogra having decamped to medical school in New York, the only remaining national champion at Michigan is Kenji Shimizu, who has evolved from an NAQT specialist into a formidable lead scorer in his own right. Behind a stellar performance from Shimizu, Michigan beat an Ohio State team without Clark Smith but with Chris Ray to win the Youngstown State site of SCT. Shimizu’s supporting cast consists of science player Noah Chen, history player Austin Foos, and seasoned veteran Saul Hankin. With Shimizu and Chen graduating and Hankin returning to his beloved New York City after this school year, the next great Michigan team will look very different, but this year’s team is well-positioned to make a run at ICT.

13. McGill University (preseason ranking: 11)
Projected lineup: Akhil Garg, Jack Guo, Daniel Lovsted, Derek So, Joe Su
Despite the presence of an ambitious Toronto team, McGill showed convincingly that it was the best team in Canada last year, and nothing has changed on that front this year. At ICT, McGill was a surprise top-bracket team; although the team did not attend ACF Nationals last year, it will be present at both nationals this year. McGill is led by Derek So, who remains the best quizbowl player in Canada. His supporting cast provides extra science coverage, but fails to address So’s biggest weakness, which is history. McGill will have to address that weakness to take the next step, but as long as Derek So is there McGill will remain competitive at the national level.

12. University of Missouri (preseason ranking: 15)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Itamar Naveh-Benjamin, Joe Stitz, Dinis Trindade
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Alexander Harmata, Itamar Naveh-Benjamin, Joe Stitz, Dinis Trindade
Like Oklahoma, Missouri plays on the isolated Great Plains circuit, although its relative proximity to the Midwest circuit means that Missouri plays a larger number of nationally competitive teams. The story of Missouri is the story of senior Itamar Naveh-Benjamin, who puts up spectacular numbers across all categories, especially on arts and literature. At ICT, Naveh-Benjamin’s two teammates are freshmen Joe Stitz and Dinis Trindade, the former of whom brought a strong base of knowledge from high school and the latter of whom is a history specialist. At ACF Nationals, Alexander Harmata will be present to add support on science; his absence at ICT will be dearly felt for a program whose best chance at making a splash is this season.

11. University of California, Berkeley B (preseason ranking: 10)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Eric Chen, Rohin Devanathan, Jonchee Kao, John Xiong
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Michael Coates, Rohin Devanathan, Rahul Keyal, Pranav Sivakumar
The Berkeley club is in much the same place as it was fifteen years ago, with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of freshmen coming up to augment one of the best teams in the country. The holding pen for all those players is Berkeley B, which made the top bracket of ACF Nationals last year and is in very good shape to do so again despite the loss of Sameer Rai. Two of the Ohioans from that Berkeley B team, Michael Coates and Rohin Devanathan, will return to Berkeley B at ACF Nationals this year, and they will be joined by Chicago-area freshman Pranav Sivakumar. Rahul Keyal, whose strengths are much like those of his older brother on the Berkeley A team, is the only Californian on a team that is oddly Midwest-focused given Berkeley’s great wealth of California high school talent. At ICT, freshmen Keyal and Sivakumar will be playing in Division II, while Coates will be playing on Berkeley A. In their places will step in Jonchee Kao, John Xiong, and Eric Chen. Because the addition of Coates means that Berkeley A will not be eligible for the undergraduate ICT title, Berkeley B will be one of the strongest contenders for that position. Chen will be a particularly important part of that effort, as his strength on NAQT-related categories is such that on most teams he would be the NAQT specialist; it just happens that Berkeley has Coates, who is even better on those categories.

10. University of Chicago B (preseason ranking: 12)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Athena Kern, James Lasker, Tamara Vardomskaya, Morgan Venkus
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): James Lasker, Matthew Lehmann, Luke Tierney, Tamara Vardomskaya
The Chicago club has great depth every year, and that depth is evident this year in the strength of the Chicago B squad. For ACF Nationals, Chicago B mainstay James Lasker and recent doctorate recipient Tamara Vardomskaya join two high school superstars in freshmen Luke Tierney and Matthew Lehmann on a balanced team that has been competitive in the Midwest all year. Lehmann in particular has taken to the college game with gusto, and he and Vardomskaya combine to form a formidable literature pairing, while Lasker takes science and Tierney history. However, both freshmen will be playing (and perhaps winning) Division II at ICT, so in their place will step in Athena Kern and Morgan Venkus, both veteran players with pockets of deep knowledge. As a result, the Chicago B team at ICT will have a major hole in history, and may be subject to wild round-to-round variations in performance.

9. University of Minnesota (preseason ranking: 8)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Jason Asher, Sam Bailey, Peter Estall, Shan Kothari
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Jason Asher, Sam Bailey, Shan Kothari, John Waldron
Mike Cheyne departed from Minnesota in 2014 as the last player from Minnesota’s national championship run. Shan Kothari and Jason Asher arrived the same year, starting a new era of Minnesota quizbowl. Sam Bailey arrived in Minneapolis the next year, and those three have formed Minnesota’s core ever since, as Minnesota has consistently hung around the bottom of the top ten. Minnesota is a fringe top-bracket team once again this year, Asher’s last. Bailey and Kothari are both PhD students with years of experience playing hard questions and plenty of deep knowledge, but they have plenty of holes between them. On the other hand, Asher is very successful at regular difficulty, but he has always struggled with harder questions. There are unlikely to be many surprises from this year’s Minnesota team.

8. Northwestern University (preseason ranking: 13)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Jack Drummond, Greg Peterson, Amanda Rosner, Adam Silverman
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Alex Banta, Greg Peterson, Adam Silverman, Anthony Wang
Last year Northwestern rode a wave of shocking upsets to a second-place finish at ICT but then missed the top bracket altogether and finished a disappointing eleventh at ACF Nationals. After losing second scorer Dylan Minarik to graduation, Northwestern is built around Adam Silverman, who demonstrated that he was one of the best science players in quizbowl last year after a period of relative inactivity as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech. Silverman’s top-scoring teammate is law student Greg Peterson, whose superficially impressive point totals come mostly from buzzing at the end of tossups. Silverman’s obvious ability puts Northwestern firmly in the category of teams that could affect the outcome by beating contenders, but without Minarik another ICT final is unrealistic.

6 (tied). Ohio State University (preseason ranking: 6)
Projected lineup: Enoch Fu, Chris Ray, Aakash Singh, Clark Smith, Laurel Spangler
Although this is Chris Ray’s second year at Ohio State, schedule conflicts and issues with American air transit infrastructure led to Ohio State missing both national tournaments last year, so this year will be the first time truly seeing Ohio State in action. At the Maryland site of CMST, Ohio State’s performance was questionable; the Buckeyes split two games with a Penn team that lacked Jaimie Carlson and Aidan Mehigan and dropped a game to a pseudo-Duke team with John Stathis in place of Ryan Humphrey. Nevertheless, Ray is one of the best players in the game, with the ability to get questions in practically any category against practically anyone, especially at ICT. Dual-enrolled high school senior Clark Smith, the best high school player in the country, has drawn comparisons to a young Tommy Casalaspi. Given Ray’s demonstrated ability to develop talent and assuming that Smith matriculates at Ohio State, this team should be one of the best in the country for years to come.

6 (tied). University of Cambridge (preseason ranking: 7)
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Jason Golfinos, Joseph Krol, Ellie Warner, Yanbo Yin
Following in the footsteps of fellow Ivy League graduates John Lawrence, Spence Weinreich, and Aidan Mehigan, Jason Golfinos opted after graduating from Princeton to continue his studies in England. In his first and only year at Cambridge, Golfinos has become part of the most dominant Cantabrigian team in British quizbowl history. Golfinos’s talents would have meshed well with those of science expert Ewan Macaulay, but Macaulay is no longer at Cambridge and Yanbo Yin will have to fill his shoes as Cambridge’s science player. Ellie Warner and Joseph Krol provide humanities support, and Krol adds mathematics knowledge in addition. Ultimately, though, this team will succeed or fail on the back of Golfinos, whose meteoric rise during his last few years at Princeton has reportedly not been halted at Cambridge. As it stands, the record for best performance by a British team at ACF Nationals belongs to Oxford, which finished in ninth place in 2017. Cambridge is well-positioned to surpass that mark and perhaps become the first non-American team to place in the top four.

5. Columbia University (preseason ranking: 5)
Projected lineup: Gerhardt Hinkle, Rafael Krichevsky, Daniel Shao, Ben Zhang
After missing the top bracket at ICT last year, Columbia upset top-ranked and hitherto undefeated Michigan en route to a surprising fourth-place finish at ACF Nationals. Both Wilton Rao and Kailee Pedersen are gone from that team, but Ben Zhang and star Rafael Krichevsky remain. In recent years, Columbia has increasingly become the Rafael Krichevsky show, and things are unlikely to change in that regard this year; at the Columbia site of CMST, Krichevsky nearly doubled the point total of his teammates combined. At that tournament, Columbia dropped its only game against Rutgers and also lost in convincing fashion to Yale. Krichevsky’s talent should be enough to lead Columbia to the top bracket again, but a repeat of last year’s ACF Nationals would be a surprise.

4. University of Chicago (preseason ranking: 4)
Projected lineup: Alston Boyd, John Lawrence, Kai Smith, Jason Zhou
Coming off a relatively disappointing performance in 2017, Chicago has been forced to move on without the face of the team, the now-graduated Max Schindler. Schindler’s loss is most acutely felt in his specialty area of science, where Chicago has no real replacement and will have to try to get by with Kai Smith. Nevertheless, Chicago remains a formidable team. John Lawrence is almost unmatched on music and nearly as strong on literature, and Jason Zhou has taken the path that Weijia Cheng seeks to emulate, going from a specialist on a national championship team as a sophomore to the primary history player on a strong team as a senior. Alston Boyd adds further support across the board, with particular strength in philosophy. Chicago is unlikely to win this year, but this team should produce top-bracket finishes worthy of Chicago’s illustrious quizbowl history.

3. University of Pennsylvania (preseason ranking: 2)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Jaimie Carlson, JinAh Kim, Aidan Mehigan, Eric Mukherjee
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Jaimie Carlson, JinAh Kim, Paul Lee, Eric Mukherjee
Eric Mukherjee won ACF Nationals with Penn in 2015, but his best chance to win ICT is this year, his last before he ends his very long collegiate quizbowl career and decamps for the world of medicine. Mukherjee’s prowess in science remains unmatched, but this is not a one-man team, as Penn showed by finishing in second place at the Georgetown site of SCT even in his absence. That victory was powered in large part by undergraduates Jaimie Carlson and JinAh Kim, who look to provide Mukherjee with something resembling the humanities support that he received from Saajid Moyen in 2015. A major coup this summer for Penn was landing Aidan Mehigan, formerly of Columbia and Oxford, but because he has class the weekend of ACF Nationals, Mehigan will presumably only be available for ICT. While Penn should perform strongly at both national tournaments, the presence of Mehigan means that ICT is Penn’s best shot at making a final or winning a national championship.

2. University of California, Berkeley (preseason ranking: 3)
Projected lineup (ICT Division I): Michael Coates, Aseem Keyal, Bruce Lou, Justin Nghiem
Projected lineup (ACF Nationals): Eric Chen, Aseem Keyal, Bruce Lou, Justin Nghiem
Berkeley has hung around the top tier for several years, but in Aseem Keyal’s senior year the team has taken a step forward. Bruce Lou’s history numbers are eye-popping, and Keyal can get most everything else. Justin Nghiem and Eric Chen add additional strength on literature and history, respectively, while Michael Coates will serve in the same NAQT specialist role at ICT that he did as an undergraduate at Chicago. The ACF Nationals team, made up of four undergraduates from California, is more or less a lock to win the undergraduate title. Playing in the remote northern California circuit, Berkeley has faced very little strong collegiate competition aside from other Berkeley teams, Stanford, and occasionally UC San Diego. As a result, there has been little evidence since last season to suggest how Berkeley will match up against other top collegiate teams, which adds an air of mystery to this year’s proceedings.

1. Yale University (preseason ranking: 1)
Projected lineup: Stephen Eltinge, Adam Fine, Isaac Kirk-Davidoff, Jacob Reed
After Matt Jackson’s graduation in 2014, Yale had no need to rebuild, but merely to reload. After very strong performances in 2016 and 2017, that cycle appears to be complete now, as graduate students Jacob Reed and Stephen Eltinge lead a Yale team with no real weaknesses. Reed is known for his ability in music, where he is without peer save for John Lawrence, but he can buzz with impunity across the distribution. Eltinge is one of the very best science players in the game, and he receives further support on science from young Adam Fine. The incomparable Isaac Kirk-Davidoff, in his last year at Yale, contributes on history, and his best-in-the-country ability on NAQT questions will give Yale a boost at ICT. The main knock on this team is that they have attended very few tournaments, but their dominance when they have played has certainly justified their #1 ranking.

2013-14 Mid-Season Preview

Most of this was written by Alex Liu, Dylan Minarik, and Collin Parks, with the help of other quizbowlers over the IRC. For the most part, what is written here does not represent the opinion of any particular individual.


This year’s version of LASA A will consist of Nathan Weiser, who returns after leading his team to an HSNCT win and contributing to a second-place NSC finish, and three members of last year’s LASA B, as was the case at Penn Bowl and ACF Fall. They are heavily favored to win, with Nathan, a force at HSNCT last year, and his teammates all returning for their senior year. Their only losses have come from college teams at Penn Bowl (where they finished fourth) and from St. John’s at Texas’ ACF Fall site. Expect high showings (and wins) at HSNCT, NSC, and probably History Bowl.

2. St. John’s

St. John’s is a good example of a well-balanced team with a star player: Carlo De Guzman. With Claire Jones and the rest of the squad back and better than ever, this team has been able to jump right back into the thick of the game, without any of the growing pains seen by teams losing most of their A team from last year. This team is highly competitive this year, with their only losses coming from LASA A at ACF Fall in Texas (though they still beat them once, and this was without a full team). This team will easily place highly at HSNCT and NSC. Expect a good showing at History Bowl as well.


LASA B will consist of last year’s LASA C, led by former Kealing stars Ethan Russo and Corin Wagen, who lead that team to a T-13th finish at last year’s HSNCT. Already an elite team last year, there is no doubt in most people’s minds that this is a top five team (though not necessarily top three). Their only losses have been to St. John’s, LASA A (with both teams being the ones ranked above LASA B), and Seven Lakes (by five points), and they apparently have a weakness in fine arts. This might be one of the greatest B teams of all time and are a sure pick to win HSNCT or NSC … next year. This year, they’re probably going to finish in the top five.

4. Dorman A

Captain Tabitha Walker and Lee Holden form one of the strongest history duos in the country, while Lane Yates and Chase Fleming are both very proficient at literature and science respectively. This team has fared well against strong competition all year, beating Western Albemarle and Maggie Walker in every game they’ve played, though they have suffered losses to Chattahoochee and Northmont. The team should be highly competitive at both HSNCT and NSC, as well as the National History Bowl, and is in the running to win any of those competitions.


One of the strongest teams in Illinois, IMSA A returns leading scorer Anton Karpovich, a great science specialist who also gets a massive NAQT boost due to his strong current events and geography knowledge. He has a great supporting cast as well, featuring lit specialist Dan Pechi and history specialist Waleed Ali. Dan reaching around the same level of lit mastery that Sabrina Lato had last year will be key to the future success of this team. Recent losses to Auburn have threatened their position as the top team in Illinois, and they may be overranked a bit, but IMSA will be sure to have high national finishes. Anton’s knowledge makes them a bigger threat for the title at HSNCT than NSC.

T6. High Tech

High Tech is returning their top scorer from last year in senior Patrick LeBlanc, who, along with former B- and C-teamers Sean McBride, Rohan Kodialam, and Srishti Srivastava, are forming the core of a team that is very balanced and already looking considerably better than last year’s A team. While losing early at Princeton to DCC, they went undefeated at LIFT XIII, and are the best team in New Jersey, having bested St. Joseph’s in all of their matchups. They also placed 9th at the 2013 Penn Bowl, losing only to a couple of college teams and LASA B. Their weaknesses have traditionally been lit and fine arts, but despite that, they’re probably accurately ranked. Expect a top ten (or maybe even top five) finish at both national tournaments.

T6. Ladue

Ben Zhang leads the post-Max Schindler Ladue, and he has not disappointed. While lacking the top-notch PPB of Ladue A last year, this year’s team is still running roughshod over all local competition. Jialin Ding has also emerged as a solid second option. However, an out-of-state trip for Ladue seems unlikely, so we’ll have to wait to see what this team is truly made of. (WUHSAC will be getting some good out-of-state competition in Northmont and Chattahoochee.) Unlike last year’s Ladue, Ben and Jialin’s support doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was last year. Also, the graduation of Max and Haohang Xu left some large gaps in knowledge. Expect a strong finish at HSNCT and a stronger one at NSC, but for now it’s unclear just how far they’ll take it.

8. Arcadia

Arcadia, led by Boyang Jiao, has been posting monstrous stats all year, ones that show them to be one of the top teams in the nation. However, this team is pretty much locked in to the highly isolated SoCal circuit, so their stats are a bit inflated by the fact that the best team at tournaments they play at is usually themselves. The team also ran into trouble at California Cup #1, where they lost to a Sameer-less Bellarmine twice and were upset by Amador Valley (recording at least five negs each game). Last year’s Arcadia A also put up great stats throughout the year before disappointing at HSNCT, and this year’s A team, while much better this time around, should be wary of finishing similarly.

9. Northmont

Sam Blizzard stands as one of the best currently-active players in the high school game, and certainly the highest scoring and one of the most balanced. He is the engine that has driven Northmont for the past two years and will drive for the next two. But despite being almost guaranteed to be the top scorer at any tournament Northmont attends, is he good enough to be able to consistently knock off top teams? He’s beaten Dorman at UK Fall and DCC twice at Rowdy Raider, yet 141 PPG at New Trier was only good enough to finish fourth behind Auburn, IMSA A, and a short-handed Stevenson. He may have plateaued a bit, but expect a good showing at HSNCT and NSC, as well as at History Bowl (though not necessarily a top 10 finish).

10. Auburn

After a few stumbles in tournaments early in the year, Auburn has become a team capable of regularly taking games off of fellow Illinois juggernaut IMSA. Evan Pandya has improved quickly, becoming a strong generalist over the past semester. At this rate, with Cole Timmerwilke and some strong support players along to help out, Auburn could rise above IMSA by the end of the year. They still have a science hole, though, and while expected to perform well at nationals they were only projected to finish as high as 10th. Also, IMSA definitely still has the edge on NAQT. But with Evan and Cole returning returning next year, and the current team playing at an extremely high level, this is a team to watch out for in the future.

11. Richard Montgomery

Richard Montgomery has reloaded well despite graduating their entire A team. They are led in scoring by Gabe Guedes, a junior, though his teammates provide a solid amount of support to make RM one of the best in the Mid-Atlantic region. However, they’ve showed occasional signs of inconsistency, such as losing to Marshall at RAYNOR while losing to their B team and Western Albemarle twice at the Metro Richmond Invitational. Regardless, their performances so far suggest a good run at nationals, and depending on who remains with Gabe next year, this team could eventually become a contender.

12. Western Albemarle

After a year of rapid improvement and an impressive HSNCT performance, Eric Xu has emerged as one of the strongest individual players this year, and will definitely be one of the top scorers at nationals along with Sameer Rai and Sam Blizzard. His self-proclaimed main weakness is science, but he is still strong enough to single-handedly make his school the best in Virginia. However he isn’t quite good enough yet to defeat higher-level competition, as shown by his games with Dorman A, and has holes like every other one-man team. He should continue to get better over the course of the year, and this team could easily upset some top competition at either national tournament.

13. Bellarmine

Sameer Rai has yet to attend a high school tournament this season (much like last year), so their stats are probably much, much lower than what this team is actually capable of. It’s very likely that Bellarmine will shoot up to the top 5 when Sameer, arguably the best player in high school quizbowl right now, starts playing again. His teammates notably recorded two wins over Arcadia A at the first California Cup tournament, and have been said to be capable of covering Sameer’s main weakness: science. Sameer has been said to be attending SUBMIT at UC Berkeley might even make appearances at future California Cup tournaments, so a preview of what this team can really do at nationals may happen soon. High finishes at nationals are expected, and it might even possible for this team to take first place for themselves.

14. Maggie Walker

Connor Wood, the only returning player from last year’s A team, is one of the best juniors in the game and a fantastic history player. Core teammate Vasa Clarke makes up for many of his deficits in areas outside of history, though this team still has noticeable weaknesses in science. They will likely still be one of the top twenty teams in the game and their current ranking is probably accurate. They are currently the second best team in Virginia behind Western Albemarle, though that could easily change, as all of their games have been decided by less than fifty points. Don’t expect them to go for the gold this year, but next year may be a different story if they can cover up their holes. Having Connor around gives this team an NAQT boost, so a strong finish at HSNCT seems more likely than a strong finish at NSC.

15. duPont Manual

After graduating half of an A team that had respectable finishes at both nationals, this school has been putting up strong stats, with relatively balanced PPGs from the players and high PPBs. However, they failed to make the top playoff bracket at Kentucky Fall and lost to Gatton at the Hilltopper Invitational, with their only tournament win coming at Louisville (where they defeated a short-handed Gatton in the final). Their ability to beat top teams has been called into question, with one Kentucky quiz bowler suggesting a lack of depth and stating that Dunbar is possibly better. In any case, this team should perform respectably at nationals, but right now, they look like a team that’s going to get upset.

16. Detroit Catholic Central

Having lost their entire A team and half of their B team from last year, DCC is in a rebuilding year. Led by juniors Jack Watts and Austin Foos, and surrounded by rapidly improving sophomores Conner Reynolds and Joshua Cantie, the team has competed well against local competition, and are the best team from Michigan. They have faced some high level competition in High Tech and Wilmington Charter A, besting both at Princeton, as well as Northmont, losing a three game series at the Rowdy Raider 2013 2-1. They’ve been somewhat disappointing at other outings, such as Kentucky Fall and New Trier, but this is a DCC team and they’ll likely improve faster than most other teams in the country will. As a team on the edge of greatness, expect them to continue to play well, though a championship run won’t be happening this year.

17. Chattahoochee

Despite a disappointing HSNCT performance and the graduation of two seniors, Chattahoochee is a much stronger team than they were last year. Their main weaknesses are a lack of a strong science player and their gunslinger mentality, which can lead to a large amount of negs, especially from leading scorer Nirav Ilango. Chattahoochee is definitely in the upper level of teams this year, and a second-place finish at UK Fall with its stacked field and two wins (so far) over Dorman A show that they’re probably underranked by several spots. Consistency can be an issue (as shown by losses to Oak Ridge and Dunbar at UK Fall), but this is a team that can definitely surprise at the end of the year.

18. Stevenson

Stevenson surprised many last year by going 8-2 in prelims at HSNCT (with wins over St. John’s and Norcross), where they ended up tying for 13th. They started the year strong by taking first at UIUC’s Earlybird, though they do not seem to have played with their full team since. At full strength, it’s been said that this team is only just behind IMSA and Auburn, and a shorthanded Stevenson, led by Jason Asher and Jeeho Lee, placed fourth at ACF Fall Illinois and third at New Trier, with wins over IMSA A and Northmont. This team is probably underranked and is on course to surprise again at both nationals.

19. Carbondale

Carbondale returns all of last year’s players. This team always seems to put up good stats, but sometimes loses to teams they shouldn’t be losing to. Without their science player, they were upset by Fremd and IMSA B at New Trier Varsity before having to forfeit most of their playoff games due to the weather. A rising star on this team is Jonathan Huh, a sophomore who lead Carbondale’s B team to victory over their A team at their IHSSBCA Kickoff and was the A team’s leading scorer at New Trier. This team is vulnerable to upsets but, with only one senior on the A team, next year should be a different story.

20. St. Joseph (NJ)

St. Joseph is the second best team in New Jersey, behind only High Tech A, to whom they lost at LIFT XIII. However, they had a very strong win at MIT Fall, beating Wilmington Charter handily. Jack Mehr is the best individual player in New Jersey (and possibly the entire Northeast as a whole). However, last year’s bizarre 5-5 prelim record is a potential warning sign, and the graduation of Michael Ploch leaves a science hole that doesn’t seem to have been filled yet. A better nationals finish is a given, but this team may have hit the “one-man teams can’t win anything” wall.

21. Wilmington Charter A

Jaimie Carlson is the only A team member from last year to return, but Wilmington has been able to put up great numbers without her at FAcT and Phoenixville, showing that she has a solid supporting cast. Consistency issues were demonstrated at Harvard Fall, where they convincingly beat DCC but dropped games to St. Joseph (NJ), Ridgewood, and Kellenberg. This year’s team is a little better than last year’s and will probably have better runs at both nationals, though probably not by a significant amount.

22. Dunbar

Dunbar returns their entire A team sans Will Walters, who now plays for Gatton. While the team struggled at FKT at Sidney and during playoffs at Harvard Fall 2013 (while missing one A team player), they made a huge statement by winning the UK Fall Championship, beating Northmont and edging Chattahoochee while only losing to DCC A. While it’s uncertain if Dunbar will be able to continue their success, it’s clear that this team has potential to pull off multiple upsets. This team is probably a few ranks lower than they should be and should have good placings at both nationals.

23. Oak Ridge

The team first came to prominence at UK Fall (Apparently the only tournament so far this year where they have had their full squad), where they upset Chattahoochee in prelims and DCC A in playoffs. Most of the team that finished tied for 33rd at HSNCT (where they upset of High Tech A) returns. William Mason, who was 17th overall in scoring at the last HSNCT, leads the team, with other solid players backing him up. Unfortunately, not much else is known about them, but their high PPB and wins over higher-ranked schools hint at them being underranked a bit. This is a team to watch in the coming months and at nationals.

24. Ezell-Harding

Ezell-Harding returns almost all of the players that finished tied for 33rd at HSNCT. The only stats available for this team come from the Hilltopper Invitational, which they won over teams such as Gatton, duPont Manual, and Corbin. They have also won other local tournaments, though they have yet to face a team in the top 25 other than an incomplete Oak Ridge. Ezell, led by high-scoring senior Griffin Ray and the Cunningham twins,  have shown a lot of potential in the past and appear to be living up to it now, but it’s yet to be seen how exactly they’ll fare against top-level competition. Expect them to finish higher at this year’s nationals, and perhaps upset a few teams, too.

25. Early College at Guilford

Guilford has put up strong stats against local teams in their native North Carolina, finishing second to Raleigh Charter with half their full team while winning the Demon Deacon Challenge. They finished an impressive 4th place when they traveled up to Virginia for GSAC. Their best player, Ziad Ali, appears to be only a junior, which hints at a promising future. Other than that, not much else is known about this team.

2013-14 Mid-Season High School Poll

Now that we have reached pretty much everyone’s winter break, it is time for the Mid-Season High School Poll!

Send to me your top 25 high school teams in order, 1 to 25. Teams will get 25 points for a 1st place vote, 24 for 2nd, and so on.

Email them to me at [email protected], and please include “hsquizbowl Top 25” in the subject line of your email. I have started to accept ballots and will accept ballots until the end of Wednesday, January 8th.

Ballots that are bad will be reviewed and possibly rejected; if I have enough time, I’ll prompt you for reasoning and what not.

Remember that the poll is intended for a general ranking of how good teams are. You should consider the team’s best possible performance, as if all players who have shown up this year were available for play. B teams and the like are eligible to be ranked.

CONGRATULATIONS LADUE!!! – 2012-13 Mid-Season Top 25 HSQB Poll

Congratulations to the Ladue Horton Watkins HS A team for being ranked number 1 in the 2012-13 HSQB Mid-Season Poll! Ladue’s A team recieved 10 of the 16 first place votes. Dorman A (SC – 2 first place votes), LASA A (TX – 1 first place votes), Bellarmine A (CA – 2 first place votes), and St. John’s A (TX – 0 first place votes) rounded out the top 5. Cistercian (TX) received the remaining first place vote. LASA B was the only B team to be voted into the Top 25. Three top 10 teams: Bellarmine (2 ballots), Loyola (2 ballot) and Cistercian (1 ballot) were left of a ballot. Ballots were submitted by: Myself, Jacob Reed, Morgan Venkus, Rohan Nag, Max Schindler/Siddhant, Richard Yu, Scott Blish, Sameen Bal, Ian Drayer’s Computers, Sam Deutsch, Collin Parks, Thomas Gaddy, Nicholas Wawrykow, Nathan Weiser, Vimal Konduri, and Adam Kalinch.

HSQB Mid-Season Top 25
1. Ladue A (MO) – 391 pts.
2. Dorman A (SC) – 370 pts.
3. LASA A (TX) – 347 pts.
4. Bellarmine A (CA) – 333 pts.
5. St. John’s A (TX) – 326 pts.
6. DCC A (MI) – 305 pts.
7. Cistercian A (TX) – 285 pts.
8. Loyola A (IL) – 256 pts.
9. IMSA A (IL) – 248 pts.
10. Blair A (MD) – 240 pts.
11. LASA B (TX) – 210 pts.
12. Thomas Jefferson A (VA) – 195 pts.
13. Belvidere North A (IL) – 193 pts.
14. Richard Montgomery A (MD) – 192 pts.
15. Hunter A (NY) – 185 pts.
16. East Chapel Hill A (NC) – 152 pts.
17. Maggie Walker A (VA) – 148 pts.
18. Macomb A (IL) – 117 pts.
19. Northmont A (OH) – 98 pts.
20. Arcadia A (CA) – 86 pts.
21. DCD A (MI) – 84 pts.
22. Early College at Guilford A (NC) – 66 pts.
23. Wilmington Charter A (DE) – 50 pts.
24. Chattahoochee A (GA) – 43 pts.
25. Wayzata A (MN) – 34 pts.

Ballots can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc … xNnc#gid=0


[Cross-posted from the forums: http://hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&p=254373#p254373]

2011-12 High School Mid-Season Poll

Congratulations to the “A” team from Hunter College High School (New York, New York) for finishing first in the 2011-12 Mid-Season Poll.  Hunter captured 12 of 15 first place votes, with two of the remaining three going to Centennial High School (Roswell, Georgia) and the remaining vote going to Bellarmine College Preparatory (San Jose, California).  Auburn High School (Rockford, Illinois) and the Illinois Math and Science Academy (Aurora, Illinois) rounded out the top five. Continue reading 2011-12 High School Mid-Season Poll

RESULTS: 2010 Collegiate Post-Season Poll

Congratulations to ACF Nationals Champion Stanford University for their first place finish in the 2009-2010 Post-Season Collegiate Poll, after receiving four out of a possible nine first place votes. In second place, also with four first place votes was the University of Minnesota. Third place was taken by Chicago A. The remaining first place vote was taken by ICT Champion Harvard University. Overall, thirty-seven teams received votes off of nine ballots.

Continue reading RESULTS: 2010 Collegiate Post-Season Poll

RESULTS: 2010 Late Season/Pre-Nationals Poll

Congratulations to the University of Minnesota for their first place finish in the 2009-2010 Late-Season Collegiate Poll, after receiving six out of a possible thirteen first place votes. In second place, with three first place votes was the University of Chicago. Third place was taken by Brown A, with two  first place votes. The remaining two first place votes were taken by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Overall, forty teams received votes off of thirteen ballots. Continue reading RESULTS: 2010 Late Season/Pre-Nationals Poll

ANNOUNCEMENT: 2010 Late Season Collegiate Poll

With the completion of ACF Regionals and NAQT Sectionals, it is now time for the 2010 Late Season Collegiate* Poll.

* “Collegiate” refers to the level of play and difficulty of tournaments to consider, not that the poll is exclusive to teams from colleges. If you believe a high school team is good enough to be ranked here, rank them.

Send to me your top 25 in order, 1 to 25. Teams will get 25 points for a 1st place vote, 24 for 2nd, and so on.

Email them to me at [email protected], and please include “hsquizbowl Top 25” in the subject line of your email. I have started to accept ballots and will accept ballots until the end of next Tuesday, March 9th.

Ballots that are bad will be reviewed and possibly rejected; if I have enough time, I’ll prompt you for reasoning and what not.

Remember that the poll is intended for a general ranking of how good teams are. You should consider the team’s best possible performance, as if all players who have shown up this year were available for play. B teams and the like are eligible to be ranked.

2010 High School Mid-Season Poll Results!

Congratulations to State College Area High School (State College, Pennsylvania) for finishing first in the 2009-10 mid-season high school quiz bowl poll. With 18 ballots received, State College  received the first place vote on 17.5 of them. Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies’ A team (Richmond, Virginia) finished second and received the other half- first place vote. Southside High School (Greenville, South Carolina),Paul M. Dorman High School’s A team (Roebuck, South Carolina), and  Georgetown Day School’s A Team (Washington, DC) round out the top five. Congratulations to these teams and to all 48 teams that received votes. Complete results are after the jump. Continue reading 2010 High School Mid-Season Poll Results!

RESULTS: Mid-Season College Poll

Congratulations to the University of Chicago for their first place finish in the 2009-2010 mid-season poll, after receiving nine out of a possible twenty first place votes. In second place, with four first place votes was the University of Minnesota. Third place was taken by Brown A, powered by their seven  first place votes. Overall, fifty teams received votes off of twenty ballots.

Continue reading RESULTS: Mid-Season College Poll