The following article was a guest contribution by Felix Wang
With the NAQT MO Qualifier ending just a few days ago serving as sort of a faux state championship for the top teams in Missouri I think now would be a good time to look over the season and analyze who the best teams were. Disclaimer, I am from Missouri and play for one of these teams so bias may be a factor. I also can’t say I know every region perfectly so if there’s an obvious team I’m missing here, feel free to let me know.
The uncontested best team from Missouri, Ladue has had a rather great season so far to say the least. Akshay Govindan, Raj Paul, Moses Schindler and new fourth scorer Louis Li have played brilliantly averaging over 8 powers per game on both IS-179 and ATHENA II and posting well over 20 ppb at every tournament they’ve played so far. Akshay and Raj continue to be some of the game’s best science and literature players respectively and Moses/Louis effectively cover the team’s weak spots in history and trash. However they have not been perfect this year. At WUHSAC they lost their first game to a Missouri team in two years to St. Joseph Central and lost WAFAT to Miami Valley in two tight matches. They have also had a serious problem: negging. At the Qualifier Ladue negged 40 times in 12 games and 19 times in only 3 games. Luckily in their much more competitive games against the top 3 teams, they cleaned up their performance, indicating their ability to play serious when need be. As they will be attending PACE not HSNCT this shouldn’t be a great concern but their tendency to always go for fast powers may ultimately hurt them in close games. Still, this team is an easy top ten and even top 5 contender at nationals.
- St. Joseph Central
After the departure of William Gentry, many doubted that St. Joseph Central could achieve the results it had obtained the year before. Instead it may be even better than last year’s, only placing 2nd at events that both they and Ladue attended and 1st at everything else. (CORRECTION: St. Joseph Central recently placed 2nd behind Omaha Westside at Savannah, while playing a split and depleted A team roster) A balanced team of Collin Gentry, Felix Wang (me), Ansh Gupta, and Frederick-Rivas Giorgi has clearly established itself as the second best team in Missouri, winning the MOQBA Fall Championship over Louisiana, Hallsville and Hickman. Collin Gentry continues to be a skilled generalist and a very good science player while Frederick Rivas-Giorgi may be Missouri’s best freshman in years especially in the fields of music and history. Their primary struggle is with visual fine arts, as I can personally attest that 99% of the time we punt away any questions or bonuses involving those things. They also seem to struggle at times with powering, going from four or five in one game to 1 or zero in the next. A win over Ladue on mACF shows this time is capable of pulling off some upsets so be on the lookout for them at HSNCT where they look to improve from their t-51 performance last year.
I debated between the next team and Hallsville for a while, but ultimately I decided to go with Hallsville for the number 3 spot. Hallsville has not placed below 3rd at any tournament where Samuel Lockwood has been playing. They have been a model of consistency throughout with very few negs or upsets dealt to them. Sam is almost certainly a top 2 generalist in Missouri and this year he finally has a contributing teammate in Colton Hough Sam has shown time and time again he is capable of putting up big numbers on very difficult sets like BHSAT and HFT. His skill in literature is astonishing, and definitely scary for any team that goes against him. Sam seems to struggle at time with clutch situations against top teams, often coming back by over 200 points only to lose or have a lead all game and end up negging the last question. Aside from that though, this is a team I would not be surprised to see make a top 4 run at SSNCT like they did last year and perhaps even beyond.
Michael Powers. The man, the myth, the absolute legend. With astonishing power counts and ppg well over 110 at all the events he’s attended, Michael is posed to perhaps once again be the number one scorer at SSNCT. In Missouri, Louisiana has performed quite well, winning WHIT undefeated over Hallsville and placing well at various other tournaments. That’s not to say they didn’t have their bumps at times,despite his 137 ppg at WUHSAC Louisiana did not even make it into playoffs, and incurred a frustrating 3rd at the MOQBA Championship despite only losing to Hallsville. Speaking of Hallsville, just like last year and the year before Samuel Lockwood has been a thorn for Michael to overcome with multiple close games lost by Michael, although he did finally manage to defeat them at WHIT. The main issue with Louisiana is lack of team balance, oftentimes Michael’s teammates put up 4 or less ppg per tournament often forcing him to essentially solo in many instances. Whether he can overcome this hurdle will be seen at SSNCT this May.
- Ladue B
One of the biggest surprises in Missouri this season has been Ladue B’s emergence as a true top 5 team. They’ve been remarkably good such as getting second at Mizzou behind their A team and wins over top teams like Louisiana. Jack Madden is a key factor why this team does so well but the fact that they placed 5th at WUHSAC without him is evidence that Eric Yin and co are more than capable of taking this team to high levels of play. I don’t really have much to say about them besides that they’re just a solid, well rounded team with deep science knowledge and the ability to power even on hard sets.
6.. Fort Zumwalt North
Just a few days ago. Fort Zumwalt North took 1st place at GAC over Washington’s A team (minus Samantha), cementing their place as one of the most surprising breakouts so far. One of their strongest performances was at WHIT IV where they placed 3rd out of 48 teams, only losing to Louisiana and Hallsville and putting up a strong 18 ppb. They’ve even taken 1st place at several events including one against a full Washington A team. I honestly don’t really know much about this team but the results and the power counts show how clearly dominant they are over every team not listed above them.
7… STL Patriots
Sam LIndsay has quietly put up strong performances at various performances throughout the season such as powering 35 questions on WHAQ III and placing just behind Samuel Lockwood and Michael Powers as a sophomore. He’s made drastic improvements since his freshman year where he only had 5 powers on FACTS.. Going forward this team has a lot of promise, especially with talented middle schooler Owen Farra arriving to give Sam some better support. As of right now in terms of both powers and bonus conversion there is wild inconsistencies that should only continue to improve as time continues.
- Washington A
Samantha Doepeker has transitioned well into high school quizbowl, winning multiple tournaments solo as well as taking 1st at the JV State Championship. She clearly has a ton of potential to grow into the next dominant player. Washington A is a team to look out for in the future as they seek to replicate their success in the 2016-17 season. However this season they have not been a slouch at events with James Coller, Samantha Doepeker and Audrey Bush all playing well and generally have much better bonus conversion than even many of the teams which place above them. By the time I check next year, I fully expect this team to have drastically improved both in skill and results.
Hickman is a flawed, but clearly talented team. They’ve performed fine, had good stats and good bonus conversion but have never had a breakout win. Regardless, they’ve been a decent, very balanced team. Michael Zou is the primary scorer followed by Even Loehr and Brad Nicklas though these three interchange frequently. Hickman has been good enough to win two tournaments and place top 4 at several top tier meets like the Fall Championship. If they study, I can see this team continuing to improve.
Felix Wang is currently a senior at St. Joseph Central High School in St. Joseph, Missouri.
This article has been updated with more information about teams previously not included