2016–2017 Teams & Players of the Week
Week of April 22, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Saint Joseph High School (South Bend, Indiana)
Saint Joseph won the Rotary Club Indiana State Championship. Coach Ben Dillon says “Saint Joseph managed to squeak by [Avon and Culver], by less [than] comfortable margins. But the preliminary game between showed that Saint Joe perhaps had the kryptonite to stop Harrison. Harrison came back to win the first playoff match, setting up an epic tiebreaking game.” Six of the seven players are seniors, so it was a wonderful way to end their regular season, as well as their competitive year, as they will not be joining us at the High School National Championship Tournament.
High School Player of the Week: Sabrina Zerrade, Timberline High School (Boise, Idaho)
Our high school player of the week is Sabrina Zerrade of Timberline High School. Sabrina led the individual scoring at the Idaho State Championship, captaining a rare all-female team. Tournament director Colin McNamara says “This was Timberline’s first tournament. Sabrina founded the team at Timberline this year, and has been working to recruit new students for the team.”
Week of April 15, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Lexington High School A (Lexington, Massachusetts)
Lexington has won four of their five regular-season tournaments this school year, and their victory at this past weekend’s Massachusetts State Championship maintains their legacy of winning that tournament all three years it has existed — going undefeated each time. Their run at this tournament was imperiled in the game against Somerville, during which they were down 40 points going into the last tossup; they powered it and swept the bonus to pull off a 5-point win.
Lexington is excited to compete in the High School National Championship Tournament next month.
Middle School Team of the Week: Meyzeek Middle School A (Louisville, Kentucky)
Our Middle School Team of the Week is Meyzeek Middle School, out of Louisville, Kentucky. They have had a stellar year, winning all five tournaments in which they’ve competed. This is their second time winning the Kentucky Middle School State Championship out of three appearances. Captained by eighth-grader Murari Srinivasan, and anchored by the tournament’s individual champion, sixth-grader Pavan Venkatakrishnan, we anticipate an impressive performance from them at the Middle School National Championship Tournament.
High School Player of the Week: Alistair Gray, Homestead High School (Cupertino, California)
At Saturday’s Northern California State Championship Tournament, Homestead High School junior Alistair Gray was the top overall scorer, and finished in second-place at the tournament playing solo. After winning the tiebreak to advance to one of the top playoff brackets, he won all of his playoff games (including handing Bellarmine A their only loss of the tournament) before losing to Harker A in the finals. Alistair was also the top scorer at the Valley Christian Invitational Tournament in January and greatly contributed to the second-place finishes by Homestead at the Sacramento Winter Tournament in January and the Bellarmine Invitational Tournament in March.
Alistair particularly enjoyed beating teams that had beaten fuller Homestead teams at previous tournaments, and he looks forward to competing with his team at the High School National Championship Tournament in May.
Middle School Player of the Week: Aditya Indla, Challenger School-Ardenwood (Newark, California)
Seventh-grader Aditya Indla wrapped up his regular season by leading the scoring in the middle school division of the Northern California State Championship. Since making his debut as a fifth-grader (scoring over 100 points in his first game, and 75 points per game over the tournament), he has never scored under 45 PPG at a regular-season tournament, nor under 65 PPG this year.
The Challenger-Ardenwood team’s season will conclude at the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas over Mothers’ Day weekend.
Week of April 8, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Montgomery Blair High School A (Silver Spring, Maryland)
Finishing their regular season with four tournament wins out of seven tournaments, our High School Team of the Week is Montgomery Blair A, whose latest victory comes at the Blue Jay Bowl at Johns Hopkins University. The balanced team, consisting of Anson Berns, Katherine Lei, Ben Miller, and Ian Rackow, went 10–1 while scoring 513 points per game, the highest their school has ever achieved. The team is all underclassmen, so we anticipate more fantastic results in their future — starting with the High School National Championship Tournament next month.
High School Player of the Week: Venu Reddy, Springwood School (Lanett, Alabama)
Venu has scored over 100 points per game at all three NAQT tournaments he has played this year, and in his high school career he has led his team to four consecutive ASCA state championship appearances, three NAQT national championship appearances, and many regular-season tournament wins. Proud coach Warren Nolen also reports that Venu was named MVP of the All-State team. Venu will finish his high school career at the High School National Championship Tournament before enrolling at Tulane University.
Week of April 1, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Greens Farm Academy A (Greens Farms, Connecticut)
Winning their first ever NAQT competition, our High School Team of the Week is Greens Farms Academy, of Greens Farms, Connecticut. The end of their regular season was particularly sweet, as they won the Connecticut State Championship against their close rival Darien by only five points.
“I am going to miss Eddie and Caroline greatly upon graduation in a couple of months because they brought so much to the team as competitors and teammates, but also as role models for younger students,” said coach Jonathan Matte of his seniors.
Middle School Team of the Week: Keith Country Day School A (Rockford, Illinois)
Our Middle School Team of the Week is Keith Country Day School, of Rockford, Illinois. Keith has shown growing dominance in middle school quiz bowl quiz bowl community, with the first tournament win in the school’s history coming this past weekend at the Gladiator Open.
“The fifth-time Middle School National Championship Tournament-bound Keith Cougars are captained by powerhouse seventh-grader Cooper Roh and a cadre of dedicated [students],” says their coach, Kristin Burns. “We are excited about this year’s squad, their devotion, and their determination to place in the top 30 teams at MSNCT in Dallas this year.”
High School Player of the Week: William Koch, Lakeland Junior-Senior High School (Deepwater, Missouri)
Playing in his first ever tournament that kept individual statistics, William Koch of Lakeland Junior-Senior High School is our High School Player of the Week. With an impressive 116 points per game, William had more than 20 points per game than his next closest competitor.
William has been playing quiz bowl with his teammates since the seventh grade, and they were very proud that their only losses at the Jefferson City Invitational were to a team much from a school larger than theirs. We hope they get to join us at both the High School National Championship Tournament and Small School National Championship Tournament later this season!
Middle School Player of the Week: Robbie Safran, Lyman C. Hunt Middle School (Burlington, Vermont)
Sixth-grader Robbie Safran, of Lyman C. Hunt Middle School, not only led his team but was the top individual scorer (with 62 points per game) at the Burlington Middle School Tournament. Not only did he do well statistically, but his passion for quiz bowl helped him recruit his friends to join him in one of his favorite activities, and helped revitalize the Lyman C. Hunt Middle School quiz bowl program, which had been dormant since 2011.
“This year Robbie was excited to form a team with friends from his school,” says Robbie’s dad, Josh. “We put an email out early in the week of the tournament and Rory, Jonah, and Ethan were excited to join the team and participate in the competition.”
Week of March 25, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Meridian High School A (Meridian, Mississippi)
Meridian won the Mississippi State Championship (hosted at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton) in thrilling fashion — by nailing the fourth overtime tossup, squeezing out a 230–220 victory over their hometown rival, Lamar School A, to close out their undefeated day.
Meridian A’s captain, Silas Clymer, was named to the All-State first team as the leading individual scorer, and senior Caleb Harper was named to the All-State second team as the #7 individual scorer. The pair were joined by senior Kelly Bator on the team.
Meridian A’s 2016–2017 season included three tournament wins, a second-place finish, and a third-place finish, for an overall record of 46–9. Coach Mike Clymer says “This team worked so hard to become champions. It’s gratifying to see their concerted efforts pay off!”
Middle School Teams of the Week: Winston Churchill Middle School A through G (Carmichael, California)
Winston Churchill Middle School has been at the center of the middle-school quiz bowl growth in the Sacramento area this year; the school had seven teams compete at the Sacramento Spring Middle School tournament that they hosted on Saturday. The 19 total teams in attendance was more than double that at the Sacramento Fall Tournament.
The Churchill A team, comprised of Govind Gnanakumar, Achyuta Ramesh, and Rohan Shelke, finished in second place in the Varsity division with a record of eight wins and two losses. The A team hopes to improve its performance at the Middle School National Championship Tournament, having tied for 13th at the 2016 national championship, which closed out the team’s first-ever year of quiz bowl.
The Churchill C team, consisting of Shohom Chakraborty, Nipun Dour, Arjun Gonuguntla, Samhita Kumar, and Aditya Sivakumar, finished in first place in the JV division with an 8–0 record, including a win against the second-place team, Harvest Park, on a tiebreak question! Samhita continues her extracurricular success after recently winning the Central Valley Spelling Bee.
Churchill’'s coach, Bruce Hansen, said “All the kids I talked to said they had a good time whether they were winning or losing!”, and that Churchill looks forward to hosting more tournaments next year.
High School Player of the Week: James Malouf, La Jolla High School (La Jolla, California)
James’s career has been marked by distinction, scoring in the double digits at every NAQT tournament he has attended, and three times breaking the 100 points per game threshold. Now the captain of the team, he closes his high school career with distinction.
Middle School Player of the Week: Nick Zhang, River Dell Middle School A (River Edge, New Jersey)
For the first time, River Dell Middle School won the New Jersey Middle School State Tournament, led by our Player of the Week, Nick Zhang. Nick not only led his team to an impressive 9–0 record, but was also the top individual scorer at the event, with over 118 points per game.
“We work very hard as a team. We practice once a week on Mondays in school and we practice every Friday night at a player’s house and we watch Jeopardy together! I had so much fun talking with all the other players during the breaks and before and after matches. I enjoy meeting people like me who love knowledge. I am looking forward to [the Middle School National Championship Tournament in] Dallas and am challenging myself to perform at my highest level, and of course to win!” says Nick.
Week of March 18, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Spring Valley High School A (Columbia, South Carolina)
The South Carolina State Championship was Spring Valley’s first tournament ever, but they made a tremendous debut, winning all but one of their seven preliminary games (and the loss, to Wade Hampton, was only by 10 points) and tying for fourth place overall. In doing so, they qualified for the High School National Championship Tournament — a short three-hour drive from home, in Atlanta.
Sophomore Isak Jatoi founded the team; he was joined on the inaugural A team by senior Anson Bidwell, junior Atifah Jatoi, sophomore Vikram Kumar, senior Breanna Murrin, and senior and leading scorer Rishishankar Suresh.
Middle School Team of the Week: Emerson School A (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Emerson A swept the Michigan Middle School State Championship hosted by Detroit Catholic Central High School, finishing 9–0 with over 500 points per game. They won every game by over 200 points (and often much more!) until the championship match, when they beat Smith A of Troy in a 365–285 squeaker.
Zach Halberstam led the team and the whole field in scoring, with 107 points per game in the preliminary rounds, but every Emerson A player made major contributions: Anders Ruiter-Feenstra scored 42 points per game, Shailen Chugh put up 18, and Joseph Alphonso scored a round 10 PPG. All four are eighth-graders.
Coach Bryan Seymour reports that the Emerson team (including the B team!) is excited for the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas. They enter on a 19-game winning streak!
High School Player of the Week: Haggai Anglade, North Babylon High School A (North Babylon, New York)
Haggai led the North Babylon A team to a ninth-place finish out of 36 teams at the March Madness Invitational at Livingston High School in New Jersey, scoring 74 points per game. With support from Richard Joyce and Matt Pecoraro, the team achieved an even record against the very tough competition in the northeast circuit. Haggai finished the preliminary rounds with a 3–5–1 line against Millburn A, a team that last year placed 34th at the High School National Championship Tournament.
Middle School Player of the Week: Hunter Bailey, Columbia Independent School A (Columbia, Missouri)
At the Missouri Middle School State Championship, sponsored by the Missouri Academic Coaches Association and held at Hallsville High School, both of the top two scorers in the preliminary rounds were from the Columbia Independent School. The top scorer was Hunter Bailey of the Columbia Independent A team, an eighth-grader who has been the leading player at every tournament the team has attended this year, and who was a Rising Star at the 2016 Middle School National Championship Tournament.
Columbia Independent’s coach, Lisa McClary, says “you’d be hard-pressed to find a more humble, kind, and thoughtful person” than Hunter, yet opposing teams can be scared of him, treating his entry into a game room “like the quiz bowl version of an invasion of the Huns — or else they ask for his autograph.”
Week of March 11, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Essex High School A (Essex, Vermont)
For the fifth consecutive year, Essex A was one of the top three teams at the Vermont State Championship. The all-underclassmen team had balanced scoring from juniors Sam Feehan, Alex He, and captain Nick Norton, as well as freshman Henry Wu, as they won all nine games.
Essex has a 54–3–1 season record so far, and will look to continue their impressive run at the High School National Championship Tournament in Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend.
Middle School Team of the Week: Edgewood Middle School B (Mounds View, Minnesota)
At the DeLaSalle Invitational Academic Tournament Of Middle Schools, or “DIATOMS,” Edgewood B convincingly won the seventh-grade division while holding their opponents to under 100 points in every game until the championship match (which they still won by 140).
Although the team played in the seventh-grade division, their leading scorer was actually a sixth-grader, McCullen Willmert, who also led the whole tournament in individual scoring in the preliminary rounds. McCullen was supported by Molly Schuh (the #4 individual scorer in the preliminary rounds), Amelia Johnson, and Graham Kyhl.
Seventh-grade divisions are not automatic qualifiers to the Middle School National Championship Tournament, but Edgewood’s A team did qualify, and McCullen and Molly will be playing along with some A-teamers.
High School Player of the Week: Joe Stitz, Washington High School (Washington, Missouri)
Joe led both his team and the whole tournament in scoring, with 110 points per game in the preliminary rounds of the Eagle Invitational at Orchard Farm High School. With significant support from Jonathan Amlong, Spencer Johnson, and Cole Phinney, Washington A went 11–0 at the tournament, winning the championship over the school’s own B team.
Washington’s assistant coach, Angel Young, says “This is a great reflection of what dedication and teamwork can accomplish! Joe is a humble young man and often praises his teammates any time he is recognized. [Washington] is an awesome group that I am so proud to be supporting!.”
Middle School Player of the Week: Ramses Tanedo, Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
At his first-ever quiz bowl tournament, Albuquerque Academy eighth-grader Ramses Tanedo was not only the tournament’s overall top scorer but won the tournament playing solo! As a result, Ramses won two books as prizes. Although Ramses specializes in science, he demonstrated impressive knowledge of a wide range of academic subjects.
Tournament director and NAQT outreach coordinator Nicholas Karas was thrilled at the turnout for the first Albuquerque Middle School Tournament and looks forward to seeing Ramses playing next year at the high school level.
With a record of four wins and one loss, Academy qualified for the Middle School National Championship Tournament, to be held in Dallas in May.
Week of March 4, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Lake City Community School A, B, and C (Lake City, Colorado)
An incredible 45% of the high school students at Lake City participate in the school’s academic team! The tiny K–12 school has only 38 high school students, and is at an elevation of 9000 feet in the San Juan mountains. The school sent three teams to this past weekend’s Colorado State Championship, and captain Johnny Nichols placed third in the overall individual standings.
Lake City qualified for, and plans to attend, the Small School National Championship Tournament in late April in Chicago.
Leslie Nichols — who is the team’s coach as well as the school’s principal and superintendent — says “This was only Lake City’s second appearance at a NAQT event. We love the format, thought the competition was great, and are so excited about competing at the Small School National Championship Tournament. Including NAQT in our academic competition team’s schedule is a welcome addition.”
Middle School Team of the Week: Norfolk Academic Guild C (Norfolk, Virginia)
Norfolk Academic Guild, a home-school collective, sent four teams to the Nerds Competing in Style tournament at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Virginia. The C team went undefeated in the middle school division, winning its games by an average margin of victory of 479 points.
The team consists of Ethan Burks, Ean Casey, Aiden Duncan, and Sadie Netzer. Coach Lydia Netzer praises her players, including Aiden’s knowledge of literature and history; Ethan’s work on science, geography, and sports; Sadie’s current events acumen; and Ean’s work holding the team together as captain. She also thanks the Cave Spring Quiz Bowl team for running the tournament and supporting middle school quiz bowl in Virginia.
Norfolk will be attending the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas in May.
High School Player of the Week: Vishwa Shanmugam, Downingtown STEM Academy A (Downingtown, Pennsylvania)
Vishwa led Downingtown STEM A at the Wisshickon Invitational in Ambler, Pennsylvania, scoring 105 points per game in the preliminary rounds to lead the individual scoring. He also recorded a power percentage of about 55%.
Downingtown STEM A went 9–2 at the tournament, and for each of the losses it also recorded a victory over the same team in a different round. This performance qualifies the team for the High School National Championship Tournament.
Middle School Player of the Week: Andrew Cowling, Christ Lutheran School (La Mesa, California)
Andrew was the leading scorer at the UC Irvine Middle School Spring Invitational, propelling Christ Lutheran School to an even 4–4 record — quite the achievement for a seventh-grader playing solo! Andrew had an impressive 95 points per game in the preliminary rounds.
Andrew has been competing in NAQT tournaments since he was a sixth-grader. He is looking forward to honing his skills for one more year of middle school play, then make an impact on the high school quiz bowl scene.
Week of February 25, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Norman High School A (Norman, Oklahoma)
Norman A strode through Edmond Memorial High School’s Bulldog Invitational in style, winning all ten of its games by an average margin of 330 points (and qualifying for the High School National Championship Tournament in the process). The team’s balanced scoring was led by Jake Perry, but teammates Will Cohen, captain Jasper Johnston, and Brian Thompson each contributed over 20 points per game.
Coach David Powell says the team “put in quite a bit of work in order to represent themselves and our school well. They come to as many as four practices a week and study their weak topics on their own. [They] really love NAQT and its format. At the Memorial Tournament they were just on fire. Jake was buzzing like crazy, and on bonuses they were calm and patient, and Jasper made sure they were listening to each other. Will brings his expertise in trash knowledge, and Brian rounds out the team by reinforcing or adding to the areas where others aren’t as strong. It has been a pleasure working with these guys for the last three years and we cannot wait for next year!”
Middle School Team of the Week: Creekland Middle School A (Canton, Georgia)
The Georgia Academic Team Association sponsored its Middle School State Championship this past weekend, and Creekland Cherokee A were the victors, with a perfect 10–0 record. Justin Bolsen and Jordan Moyel led the team’s scoring, and were backed up by Cal Pace, Joseph Satterfield, and Sean Yates.
Mark Nazemzadeh coaches the team, which has attended every Middle School National Championship Tournament held since the tournament’s inception but has not yet registered for the 2017 championship. We at NAQT certainly hope Creekland will join us in Dallas for nationals!
High School Player of the Week: Patrick Hance, Lincolnton High School (Lincolnton, North Carolina)
Lincolnton’s coach, Trent Teague, is thrilled with Patrick’s performance, which has been the best on the team for the last three years.
Middle School Player of the Week: William Groger, Miami Valley School (Dayton, Ohio)
Eighth-grader William Groger powered more than 60% of the 169 tossups he answered correctly, easily leading the individual standings at the Copley Middle School Invitational and taking his “team” — in fact himself playing solo — to an easy tournament championship. William scored double-digit numbers of powers in eight of the ten games he played and averaged 216 points per game on the whole day.
The Miami Valley coach, Tyler Benedict, says that “William has been an integral part of our middle school program since” it was founded when William was in sixth grade. “He has developed a remarkable amount of confidence on the buzzer and he remains hungry to improve, testing himself against tough high school competition when not competing with our middle school A team. This year, William has also contributed significant time to strengthening the entire Miami Valley program, serving as a moderator and statistician in our lunchtime intramural league.” In May, William will captain his team at his third Middle School National Championship Tournament.
William has been preceded in quiz bowl by his similarly very successful brother John John, who is one grade ahead at the Miami Valley School.
Week of February 18, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Olympia High School’s A Team (Orlando, Florida)
Olympia played their first NAQT quiz bowl tournament ever at the Matador Invitational at Valencia College, and it was a highly impressive debut: the A team went undefeated to win the championship, and the B team finished third.
Coach Michael Pearl credits senior Arjun Singh with organizing the team, running practices, and deciding to participate in this new type of tournament, which “gave us a chance to redeem ourselves and really live up to our full potential after a disappointing showing in our county’s playoffs.” Coach Pearl says that “quiz bowl has really been where Arjun has found his voice and his confidence.” Arjun was joined by Jake Shannin, who “loved the experience” of his first NAQT tournament, and pointed out that “the real star of the team was Wally Vargas Rios, who just went on a tear.” Indeed, Wally was the team’s leading scorer. Abigail Thomas provided critical scoring support for the team. Arjun is the only senior, so Coach Pearl is “excited to see where the team goes in the future.”
Middle School Team of the Week: Copley-Fairlawn Middle School’s A Team (Copley, Ohio)
At Solon High School’s Comet Winter Clash Middle School Invitational, Copley-Fairlawn continued its stellar season with their fifth quiz bowl tournament win. Eighth-graders Nicholas Carrino, Nathan Hazlett, and Ryan Pinard, and seventh-grader Stephen Catalano joined forces to win all their games by more than 250 points except for one (a 50-point victory over Roxnercello A, an exhibition team of students from several schools), bringing their season record to 37–0 in tournament play. Nathan Hazlett was the tournament’s leading scorer, with 91 points per game in the preliminary rounds.
Copley-Fairlawn is looking forward to the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas. At last year’s national championship they finished in 21st place, and the previous year in 40th place.
High School Player of the Week: Tyler McStravick, St. Thomas High School (Houston, Texas)
Tenth-grader Tyler McStravick led the St. Thomas team to a third-place finish at Strake Jesuit College Prep’s Crusader Invitational — not bad no matter what, but especially so for a team with only two players! John Cordes lent 18 points per game worth of support to Tyler’s efforts, which amounted to 119 points per game, easily leading the tournament’s individual scoring.
Tyler has been a standout quiz bowl player since his middle school days at St. Clare of Assisi, highlighted by being the second-highest scoring player in the preliminary rounds of the 2015 Middle School National Championship Tournament.
Middle School Player of the Week: Maggie Brown, Ransom Middle School (Cantonment, Florida)
Maggie was instrumental in founding the Ransom program two years ago, and has been its captain and leading scorer ever since. She led the individual scoring in the middle school division of the Bulldog Invitational at Marianna High School, and also led the Ransom Middle School team to a close second-place finish. Her 78 points per 20 tossups heard in the preliminary rounds are all the more impressive considering the middle school division was playing on high school questions.
Maggie, an eighth-grader, will captain her team at the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas. She credits her teachers in the Escambia County school system, and her sisters Lauren and Samantha of the J. M. Tate High School team, for her education and love of playing quiz bowl.
Week of February 11, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Adlai E. Stevenson High School’s A Team (Lincolnshire, Illinois)
State championship season began this weekend with the Illinois State Championship at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Adlai E. Stevenson High School’s A team emerged victorious after taking the second and third games of a three-game finals series against Barrington High School (Barrington, Illinois), winning the William and Janet Egan Memorial Trophy. This is Stevenson’s fourth such state championship (2005, 2006, and 2011).
Captain Ali Saeed, a senior, led the team’s scoring (and was third in the tournament in the preliminary rounds); he got double-digit support from teammates Nathan Cha, a senior; Deepak Moparthi, a junior; and Govind Prabhakar, a freshman.
Coach Ryan Fedewa is “incredibly proud of these guys,” and calls them “a great bunch: they constantly shake each others’ hands and say ‘good man’ when one of them has a great buzz — or ‘naughty man’ when they neg.” Ryan is amused with how Ali and Nathan constantly make fun of each other, and with Deepak and Govind’s rivalry over who can buzz in fastest on tossups related to Hinduism.
Tournament director Mike Sorice “really liked their team dynamic” and calls Stevenson “a joy to read to.” He was particularly impressed with the team’s resilience: negs didn’t faze them, and they rallied effectively in the finals series against Barrington; even after losing the first game, they “didn’t seem to carry any of that negativity” into the next two games.
High School Player of the Week: Alia Wilson, George C. Marshall High School (Falls Church, Virginia)
Alia, a senior, is the captain and lead scorer of the Marshall team. With support from Shruthi Bhimaraju, Jonathan Chen, and Anjali Sardana, the team finished with an 8–3 record, tied for ninth place — their highest-percentile finish at an NAQT quiz bowl tournament since 2006.
Coach Laura Campbell says “Alia is a true leader and great role model for her teammates. She has been active in quiz bowl throughout her high school career. Alia is a wonderful student to coach and has a bright future ahead of her.”
Week of February 4, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Corona del Sol High School’s A Team (Tempe, Arizona)
Corona del Sol A breezed through the Arizona Quizbowl Association’s February Invitational at Arizona State University. They went undefeated in the ten-team field, with an advantage of over 100 points per 20 tossups heard over the next-highest team by that metric.
Daniel Farr and Vinay Pattalachinti led the A team in scoring, nearly matching each other buzz-for-buzz with about 58 points per 20 tossups heard (ranking #3 and #4 in the individual rankings), and were strongly supported by Harrison Bradley and Sameer Vij, who each put up 19.35 points per 20 tossups heard.
Arizona Quizbowl Association founder Bunnie Hadsall wrote the following based on her observations and interviews with the team:
Corona del Sol A is comprised of four young men with a passion for knowledge. Since they started playing quiz bowl they have all improved as players, but they don’t play just for the statistics—they each express a vociferous passion for knowledge both in and outside the classroom.
“I thought that quiz bowl could be an opportunity to expand my own knowledge across a wide range of subjects, and I was exactly right,” says Daniel Farr, Corona A’s most novice member. He joined the team at the beginning of this school year, and has helped it quickly become a powerhouse in the Arizona circuit. Sameer Vij shares, “Quiz bowl interested me due to the wide range of academic topics that it covered. I came to the first tournament and had a great experience, as my team came in first place for the novice division.” Sameer and his team are now competing in the varsity division, vying for the top spot at each tournament.
Harrison Bradley shared similar affection toward the game: “Quiz bowl ties into both what was being learned in high school and outside. You’re surrounded by other people in the club who share your enjoyment for intellectual pursuits and learning.”
Vinay Pattalachinti had a rough start in quiz bowl, but he stuck with his team and improved drastically: “In the beginning I was awed by how good some of the seniors in the club were, but the main turning point was when the team composed of me, Sameer, and Harrison won the novice division my freshman year. This victory made me feel like I belonged in quiz bowl, and I might be able to achieve something.” Vinay also gives a shout-out to his coach, Sarah Blechacz, “who supports us along every step, despite how much of a pain we are.” Vinay’s involvement in quiz bowl since his freshman year has helped him develop his skills, and he says he’s “able to reinforce the knowledge and get a better grasp of the information that I will likely use in my life.”
Each member of the team also highlighted teamwork, and shared some of their “top secret” tips for non-verbal communication. At the end of the day, the sun never sets on Corona del Sol quiz bowl, and I’m glad that the team answered my questions even though they weren’t pyramidal.
The Corona del Sol team will compete at the High School National Championship Tournament in Atlanta.
Middle School Team of the Week: Middlesex Middle School A, B, and C (Darien, Connecticut)
Middlesex Middle School sent eight teams to the Bergen Winter Classic in River Edge, New Jersey. None of them had a losing record, but the highlights were the A through C teams, who went a combined 22–5 as they captured three of the top six spots, qualifying all three of those teams for the Middle School National Championship Tournament.
Though all four players from last year’s Middlesex team that won last year’s national championship have moved on to high school, Middlesex is poised to make a big impact at this year’s championship. The school has fielded both of the top two teams at three different tournaments so far this year.
All three of these teams were relatively balanced, with at least two players scoring 30 points per game or more and three players in double digits. Each had a player among the top ten individual scorers.
Middlesex A consists of Anna Burgess, Iman Onbargi, Max Samroengraja, and Luke Smith. The B team is Will Cherico, Fin Kehrli, James Leone, and Nick Liu. The C team is Alex DelVecchio, Kiran Ebrahimi, Evan O’Rourke, and Vincent Xu. The group is coached by Ken Romeo and Barbara Ivey.
High School Player of the Week: Kara Combs, Northmont High School (Clayton, Ohio)
Kara led the Northmont team to a sweep at the Van Wert Invitational at Van Wert High School in Ohio. With backup from Caitlin Hoyng, Ryan Laing, and Samantha Street, she led the individual scoring with 125 points per game and a power rate over 39%, all while recording only two interrupts.
Kara’s career stretches back four years, but sprung into high gear last school year. She is now a senior and Northmont’s captain, and will look to lead the team to a high finish at the High School National Championship Tournament. (Northmont has previously finished 13th at nationals twice, in 2011 and 2015.)
Coach David Jones calls Kara “the true epitome of a team leader. Every time we have needed her to perform in the clutch over her four years at Northmont, she has been able to do it. This tournament was a perfect example of that. Beyond her impressive stat line on the day, she saved her best performance for the match to determine the tournament champion. Kara has consistently been one of the top scorers at every tournament she has attended this year and works very hard to maintain her level of excellence week in, week out. Beyond her excellence at the buzzer, Kara is also serving as the volunteer [coach for] our middle school team, and will become the full-time middle school coach next season after she’s graduated. I’m thrilled to continue to have her dedication and work ethic on this team! I’ve never had a more dedicated student.”
Middle School Player of the Week: Lukas Koutsoukos, Middlebrook School A (Wilton, Connecticut)
At the same Bergen Winter Classic tournament that Middlesex dominated in the standings, Lukas — a sixth-grader — was storming through the tournament with support from Vihan Jayawardhane. The Middlebrook A team went undefeated in the preliminary rounds, with Lukas scoring over 100 points in each game and twice earning seven powers.
Although Middlebrook A stumbled slightly in the playoffs, dropping three games (including one to the tournament runners-up, Middlesex B), Lukas continued to score many points, and he capped off the day with a narrow, 285–270 victory over Cavallini A from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. The team finished in seventh place, one spot away from qualifying for the Middle School National Championship Tournament.
Despite his great performance, Lukas was upset at missing a question related to Greece, as he felt his Greek grandfather would be disappointed.
Week of January 28, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)
Lehigh Valley won the Manheim Township Academic Challenge under the leadership of junior Alex Schmidt. Alex scored 162 points per game, easily leading the individual scoring, and achieved a 58% power rate. Lucas Larkin supported the team, which is coached by Alex’s father Peter Schmidt and will look to go deep into the playoffs at the High School National Championship Tournament.
Middle School Team of the Week: Mesa Verde Middle School (San Diego, California)
At the University of California – San Diego’s Triton Invitational, Mesa Verde swept the nine games they played, winning the tournament championship in a close final over Black Mountain A (also from San Diego). The team got major contributions from Andrew Jia, James Ni, Daniel Shaw, Aakash Vermani, Michael Wu, and Joshua You, all of whom are in eighth grade except Vermani, who is in seventh grade.
Mesa Verde qualified for the Middle School National Championship Tournament and promptly registered for it. The team has achieved mixed results at nationals in past years, finishing third at the 2013 MSNCT, tying for 29th of 128 at the 2014 MSNCT, and finishing 103rd of 160 at the 2016 championship.
High School Player of the Week: Eshaan Vakil, Ed W. Clark High School (Las Vegas, Nevada)
A former middle school standout for Hyde Park Middle School in the emerging Las Vegas quiz bowl circuit, Eshaan is now a freshman in high school and continues doing great things. Now a freshman, he not only led the scoring at the Nevada State Championship, he more than tripled the individual points per game of the next-highest-scoring player.
With support from his teammates Alex Bean, Joseph Rios, and Brock Walker, Eshaan led the Clark team to a commanding 665–75 victory over Hyde Park in the championship match. Throughout the whole tournament, Clark only once allowed an opponent to reach triple digits in scoring.
Eshaan and the Clark team have qualified and registered for the High School National Championship Tournament in Atlanta over Memorial Day weekend.
Middle School Player of the Week: Isak Dai, Mounds Park Academy (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Isak — like his high school counterpart-honoree Eshaan Vakil — has a long record of quiz bowl success, from being the second-place individual scorer at his first tournament ever to leading it at his most recent one, the GEMSTONE tournament at Burnsville High School, with 155 points per 20 tossups heard and a 60% power rate.
Isak’s coach, Wade Peterson, calls him a “very professional player for an eighth grader, [with] good poise and a genuine love of quiz bowl,” and compares his play to that of a high school senior. Mr. Peterson says it has “been a joy to coach him.”
Isak was joined by Aiden Harms, Simon Harms, and Peter Manolis as they romped undefeated through the 28-team field, capping the day with a 10-point win over Parnassus Prep in the championship match. Mounds Park exceeded 450 points in every game but one. The school will be sending two teams to the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas in May.
Week of January 21, 2017
The Community College Sectional Championship Tournaments took place on the weekend of January 21, so this week we will also be choosing a Team and a Player of the Week in the Community College sector.
Community College Team of the Week: Wallace State Community College (Hanceville, Alabama)
Wallace won the Alabama Community College Sectional Championship at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, with a perfect 11–0 record. The team was led by Zakk Waddell and Ross Wallace, with additional contributions from Derik Arendall, Paul Knetter, and Caleb Still; Christine O’Leary is their coach. Wallace State is second in the D-Values of CC SCT participants.
High School Team of the Week: Detroit Catholic Central A & B (Novi, Michigan)
After coming in third place and fifth place at last year’s High School National Championship Tournament, Detroit Catholic Central continued its decades-long excellence by winning the top two places at Michigan State University’s Rube Goldberg Invitational. The A team consists of Robert Crawford, Will Lamarra, Robert Mansuetti, and Austin Morton, each of whom scored in excess of 30 points per game, and went undefeated. The B team, whose only loss came to the A team, is the similarly balanced quartet of Lance Bassett, Jonah Fanning, Josh George, and Nathan Pascual. Four of the top ten scorers at the tournament were players from Detroit Catholic Central.
This is the second time in 2016–2017, and the seventh time in the last two seasons, that Detroit Catholic Central A faced Detroit Catholic Central B for a tournament championship. The A team’s record in the last two years is 86–1 within the state of Michigan, with the only loss being against Detroit Catholic Central B last year. The teams are coached by Christopher Gismondi and Ben Herman.
Middle School Team of the Week: Cistercian Preparatory School A (Irving, Texas)
Cistercian won the Greenhill Games at the Greenhill School in Addison, Texas (like Irving, a Dallas suburb), dropping only a single, close game to the host school’s team. Every player on the all-eighth-grade team reached double digits in scoring: Evan O’Suilleabhain, Coby Scrudder, Joseph Spak, Maxwell Vaughan, and Michael Wilson, with Spak leading the team (and coming in third place in the whole tournament) with 89 points per game in the preliminary rounds.
Cistercian will be attending the Middle School National Championship Tournament practically right in their backyard at the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport. The players’ favorite thing at quiz bowl tournaments is powering a question, then explaining to the rest of the team how they know that. They are coached by Father Gregory Schweers and Father Augustine Hoelke.
Community College Player of the Week: Gabriela Rodriguez, Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Gabriela not only led her team, but led the whole tournament in scoring, with 66 points per 20 tossups heard. Broward finished in third place at the South Florida Community College Sectional, and qualified for the Community College Championship Tournament in Minneapolis.
Last March Gabriela was named Brain Bowl Student of the Month by the Florida College System Activities Association. She was also the leading scorer at the 2016 Community College Sectional Championship — her first tournament ever! At the 2016 Community College Championship Tournament she finished eighth among individual scorers in the preliminary rounds. Coach Tony DeLia reports that in addition to quiz bowl, Gabriela is active in the National Honor Society, in the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program, and in church and community organizations.
High School Player of the Week: Mason Guillot, Baton Rouge Magnet High School (Louisiana)
At the Cade Cane Classic Tournament at the Episcopal School of Acadiana in Broussard, Louisiana, Mason led the individual scoring with 111 points per game in the preliminary rounds. His power rate was nearly 33%, and he kept his interrupts under control with less than one per game. Mason, Obuchi Adikema, and Cole Roland, finished in second place, with their only loss coming in the championship round of the tournament, to Strake Jesuit A.
Mason’s coach, Anthony Peek, reports that he is very impressed with both Mason’s knowledge and with his ability to make educated guesses that often turn out to be right.
Middle School Player of the Week: Maeve Gaffney, Sacred Heart of Jesus School’s A Team (Wadsworth, Ohio)
Maeve sailed through the Smithville Middle School Invitational without receiving a single interrupt penalty, putting up 51 points per game as her team’s leading scorer. Backed by John Burns, Mario Pace, Carly Sorrent, and Xavier Thombs, her team finished in fifth place.
Maeve says “The Sacred Heart Academic Challenge Team always enjoys the Smithville tournament and last Saturday was no exception. I was thrilled to have our team do so well and have so much fun. My favorite questions were about history and current events. Thanks Mr. Ellis for being the best coach and reader.”
Week of January 14, 2017
High School Team of the Week: Wayzata High School A (Plymouth, Minnesota)
Wayzata wy-ZEH-tuh continued its dominance of the Twin Cities quiz bowl scene by capturing first place at the RAT-RACE tournament at Rosemount High School. Wayzata has won every tournament it has played so far this year, entering an average of seven teams in each. At this tournament, Wayzata got nine teams into the playoffs and qualified six teams to the High School National Championship Tournament.
Play at RAT-RACE consists solely of 10-point tossups with no powers or interrupt penalties. Wayzata’s A team defeated all but one of its opponents, including very close wins against two Eden Prairie teams and a 20-point victory over their own C team, to whom they had lost by 40 earlier in the day. They thus became the first all-female team to win a tournament in Minnesota in at least the last decade.
Moderator Eric Hillemann said “It was fun to witness a dominant performance from an all-female lineup, and I was impressed as well by their evident, indeed exuberant supportive team chemistry. For this tournament, [Tora Husar] was evidently fighting being sick, but she was doing so very successfully—visibly bleary between questions, but all business during. She was good enough to carry a team quite far all by herself, but was getting great support from each teammate, nonetheless, which was what put them over the top. Really an inspiring team to watch play!”
Wayzata’s A team at RAT-RACE consisted of Cara Fragomeni, Divya Goel, Tora Husar (who was the tournament’s third-place individual scorer), and Alicia John. The team is coached by Meaghan Decker and Brian Decker.
Middle School Teams of the Week: Midtown Classical A, B, and C (Tallahassee, Florida)
Midtown, a home-school collective, won the top three places at the Quizkitten tournament at Bainbridge High School in Georgia.
Midtown Classical B was led by Elisabeth Duggar, supported by Katherine Cox, Hope Fudge, Christian Leeman, and Elizabeth Leeman. They took only one loss, which was to Midtown Classical A in the last round of the tournament.
Midtown Classical’s all-elementary-schooler C team, which was fourth-grader Caroline Cox (who was an All-Star at the same tournament two years ago, as a second-grader), fifth-grader Emma Cate Duggar, third-grader Thomas Duggar, and fifth-grader Drew Palmer, had a slightly tougher run, but made the top playoff pool with a 3–2 morning record, and recorded three more wins to end the day 6–4 and in third place, thanks to a 10-point victory over Maclay in round 10. This team had the most balanced scoring of any of the Midtown teams, with all four players above 10 points per game.
Four rounds in the tournament featured a Midtown-versus-Midtown game. This resulted in a number of sibling-against-sibling contests, including one game matching twins against each other. The older siblings won ten of the eleven such games—but coach Kevin Cox reports that the youngsters warn they are catching up fast!
High School Player of the Week: Sohum Kulkarni, Parish Episcopal School A (Dallas, Texas)
Sohum, a ninth-grader, led the individual scoring at the Panther Pageant tournament. He powered roughly a fourth of the tossups he answered correctly, all while receiving only one interrupt penalty all tournament.
Middle School Player of the Week: Aditya Singh, Valley Ridge Academy (Ponte Vedra, Florida)
In his first tournament since transferring to Valley Ridge from Aaron Cohn Middle School in Midland, Georgia, Aditya and his teammate Yash Singh blew the small middle school field away. Classical Prep Academy’s tournament had three house teams playing against Valley Ridge in the middle school division, and Valley Ridge swept them behind Aditya’s 128.75 points per game (topping the individual standings).
Week of January 7, 2017
High School Teams of the Week: Centennial High School A & B (Ellicott City, Maryland)
At the Downingtown East Invitational, Centennial’s three teams compiled a collective 22–10 record, with the A team winning third place and the B team capturing fourth. The A team led the field with 492 points per game and 24.36 points per bonus and had balanced scoring among Jakob Boeye, Rohan Laljani, Jason Li, and Siri Neerchal. The B team was led in scoring by Emmy Alme and Sahil Saini, supported by Yashas Lokesh and Fayyaz Zaidi. The teams are coached by Eric Seifter, Sara Seifter, and John Heslin.
Earlier this year, Centennial hosted a 101-team tournament, one of the largest in the country!
Middle School Team of the Week: Next Generation School A (Champaign, Illinois)
Next Generation’s A team placed third in the middle school division of the Knights’ Challenge tournament at Auburn High School (Rockford, Illinois), which was their first NAQT tournament ever! They scored 349 points per game and qualified for the Middle School National Championship Tournament in Dallas, which they will be attending. The team includes Hadi Ahmad, Amalie Johnson, Abhinav Sattiraju, Andy Tang, and Lawrence Zhao, and is coached by Brenda Searby.
High School Player of the Week: Alex Donovan, Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (Missouri)
At the De Smet Varsity Invitational, Alex led his team to a perfect 10–0 record and the tournament championship. With 175 points per game in the preliminary rounds, he was also the leading scorer for the whole tournament. He exceeded 200 points scored in two separate games.
Middle School Player of the Week: Shiva Oswal, Pi-oneers Home School Collective (Cupertino, California)
Shiva led the Pi-oneers to victory at the Stratford-Sunnyvale Middle School Invitational, following a strong start with 215 points scored in round 1. He also led the individual standings at the previous Bay Area middle school tournament, but improved his power rate and cut his interrupt rate to improve to 148 points per game in the preliminary rounds.