Written by Cerulean Ozarow
On May 25-26, 336 teams from around the country converged in Atlanta to compete in NAQT’s High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT). Among these 336 teams were 10 New York teams from 8 schools, 7 of which made playoffs and all of which did quite well on a national level to make their state proud.
The top New York team by placement was Ithaca, who exceeded the expectations of some by going T-5th. They started 8-2 in prelims and never slowed down, defeating numerous top national teams like Auburn and Stevenson A. For the first time this year, their top scorer was junior Kaelan Imani, who went 23-40-4 for 37.18 PP20TUH. However, this was a true four-man team, with Isaiah Gutman and Julian Perry both breaking 35 PP20TUH, and vital contributions from Vaynu Kadiyali as well.
The next New York team by placement was Hunter A, who finished T-12th. Though a drop from their finals appearances the previous three years, the Hunter cohort still performed very well, beating top-5 teams Thomas Jefferson A and Chattahoochee A and losing to Stevenson A in a very tight match. They were led in scoring by graduating senior Daniel Ma, who put up a 42-52-23 statline for 58.15 PP20TUH. The sophomores on the team also performed very well -- Pedro Juan Orduz with 31.18 PP20TUH, Cerulean Ozarow with 23.31 PP20TUH, and Benjamin Chapman with 11.52 PP20TUH -- so the future looks bright for this Hunter team.
Troy, from upstate, also finished T-12th. Alex Pyle put in a standout performance for his final tournament, going 58-100-20 with 101.72 PP20TUH, enough to be the tournament’s 4th scorer. The team knocked out Ladue and kept it very close against 2nd place team University Lab; their 12th place finish marks the best performance for any non-Ithaca upstate New York team.
A number of other New York teams made playoffs. Long Island’s Kellenberg A finished T-73rd in an impressive performance featuring very balanced scoring and a defeat of a strong Acton-Boxborough team. Three more Long Island teams finished T-97th. Great Neck South were statistically one of the best teams with such a placement, but unfortunately a close loss to Raleigh Charter kept the senior-heavy squad from going farther. Captain Noah Sheidlower led the team’s scoring with 17-29-7 and 43.40 PP20TUH, while Andersen Gu, Sam Levine, Daniel Lu, and Ethan Vainrib also contributed nicely. After going 3-4 on Saturday, Island Trees won their first three games on Sunday to make it to playoffs, including a last-round defeat of fellow regional team Livingston from New Jersey (who were the statistically best team not to make playoffs). Captain David Wendt finished off a strong career with a 9-55-10 statline for 55.46 PP20TUH. Finally, Clarke managed to make playoffs despite this only being their first ever year of quizbowl. It was a very impressive performance, and they’ll return their top two scorers, making them a team to watch out for next year.
The New York teams that did not make playoffs still acquitted themselves quite well. Hunter B had the 3rd highest PP20TUH of all non-playoff teams, and had some impressive performances, including 30-point losses to Henderson and Barrington, both of which finished t-12th. They were led in scoring by junior Asher Jaffe (18-39-11 for 56.54 PP20TUH), with valuable contributions from other team members. Kellenberg B finished 4-6, with strong performances from juniors Victor Louie and Rob Tiss. Saratoga Springs finished 3-7, but it was great to see another upstate team come out to HSNCT (they came down to PACE as well)!