The following article was a guest contribution by Josh Rubel and Ned Tagtmeier.
Last Saturday, twenty-seven teams competed in the Hornet Hullabaloo, graciously hosted by the Greenhill School. The tournament was held on IS-186X. Each team played 6 rounds of prelims before 5 rounds of twenty-one team single elimination playoffs. The single elimination format meant that the tournament was high-intensity, but it was also a lot of fun for all involved. In this article, Josh Rubel and Ned Tagtmeier analyze the performance of various notable teams, sorted by finish order.
- Cistercian – This Cistercian team showcased an impressive ability to consistently pull out wins against the top teams in Dallas, going undefeated on the day. While this team specializes to an extent, they all have a superlative amount of general knowledge that helps them make clutch buzzes. As far as specific players go, John Lesage appears to be a fantastic geo/fine arts player. He also has a lot of real knowledge in niche categories like philosophy. Ben Shamai is a great history/current events player who is also one of the fastest buzzers I’ve ever seen. Nico Walz is their literature player and he’s very good as well. As one would expect from a school taught by monks, they are all great at religion. Overall, this team appears to have stabilized their playstyle and increased both consistency and knowledge significantly since last year. The one question mark for this team is science, which I’m sure they will be studying hard as the season progresses.
- St. Mark’s A – While St. Mark’s did very well on Saturday overall, the tournament highlighted certain inconsistencies in their play. In their first round of play, they were significantly out-tossuped by Coppell B, speaking to the team’s tendency to freeze up when things don’t go their way. However, St. Mark’s should be a very good team if they manage to overcome this hurdle. They averaged over 7 powers per game and 24 points per bonus, respectable statistics that showcase the strong balanced coverage that this team has at their best. The statistics were comparable to those at last year’s St. Mark’s Invitational, showing that the team has bounced back from the loss of their captain. Aayush, the team’s top scorer, covers history extremely well and also covers current events and geography. Ned Tagtmeier and Han Zhang combine to cover literature, religion, mythology, philosophy, and social science. Nicholas Cerny covers real science and fine arts. This team is significantly weaker on categories prioritized by NAQT, such as current events, geography, and trash, which is rather unfortunate for a team that plays almost exclusively NAQT sets and is an issue that will need to be remedied.
- Greenhill A- Greenhill A was able to follow up on their strong finishes at national tournaments last year with a 3rd place in Saturday’s tournament. They improved on their numbers from last year to average 7 powers a game and 23 points per bonus, showing that the team can compete with the other top teams in the Dallas area. Gokulan Anand, the team’s leading scorer and 3rd highest scorer in the tournament, is an extremely strong literature/fine arts player while Josh Rubel covers history/current events and geography. 8th grader Nikky Nandipati started his final middle school year strong, averaging 30 ppg on the high school A team. Shruti Siva covers science and auditory fine arts, but teams such as Parish Episcopal have an edge in science when the two teams meet. Science is definitely Greenhill’s weakest topic, but if they can shore up this weakness, there are few topics Greenhill can’t give teams a run for their money in. They faltered during the semifinals against Cistercian A (only getting 8 tossups to Cistercians 12) and will need to improve on their answering speed against strong teams in tight situations. Greenhill still put up a strong tournament overall and if they continue to improve, another top finish at the Parish tournament in November seems likely.
- TAG Magnet A- With the new addition of ex-Greenhill coach Grant Mindle along with a ton of studying over the summer, TAG had a dramatic improvement from last year, and came in with a T-3 finish after a loss to St. Mark’s A in the semifinals. This is one of the more balanced teams in the region, with solid coverage of science, from Ketan, literature, from Jisoo, and history, from Jaik. Ketan’s also extremely good at fine arts. To get to the next level, this team will likely have to increase their knowledge of NAQT stuff, but they’re already in a pretty good place overall.
- Plano West A – Plano West impressively bounced back after graduating their entire A team and most of their B team. With a balanced scoring attack (each player averaged between 20-50 points per game), they were able to put up a 7-1 record in the tournament. Junior Siddharth Bapat, in particular, had a great tournament with 14 powers and 50 points per game. This team is extremely strong on categories like music, current events, and trash. However, their points per bonus (19.4) lagged behind their other stats, and it cost them in the playoffs. If they can bring this stat up to par with their others, stronger playoff finishes are in store for them in future tournaments.
- Plano West C – While this team certainly benefited from a relatively easy prelim schedule (only other team on this list that they played was Greenhill B, to whom they lost), they can buzz well across the distribution and have a lot of potential as a team. This is proven by their clutch octafinals victory against a strong Jasper A team. That said, they had as many negs as powers, proving that they need to expand their knowledge base in order to beat other teams that can consistently power. Also, Arnold can rap in Afrikaans which is pretty cool and entirely relevant.
- Parish Episcopal- After having the team’s best season ever with a second place finish at SSNCT, Parish was hit with the graduation of two A team members, Adam Klein and Duncan Antich. This left them with the Kulkarni siblings, Shivani and top scorer Sohum, as holdovers from the 2018 team. Sohum scored a career high this tournament with 111.11 ppg and almost powered as much as other top teams did total. However, Sohum did not receive much help from his teammates, and he accounted for over 80% of the team’s total points. Sohum is widely considered to be one of the region’s top science players, and his strong generalism extends to other categories, but he’ll have to widen his knowledge base in order to return Parish to the regional dominance it experienced last year.
- Greenhill B- Greenhill B posted a respectable 4-2 prelim record and 2-1 playoff record, good enough to qualify a spot at nationals. Led by Daniel Rothstein (with solid history coverage and great currents events) and Varun Gande (science and math), they took care of their winnable games (with the exception of the slip-up vs. Cistercian C) and performed up to their expectations. This was a solid showing for their first tournament of the year, but to pull off an upset against one of St. Mark’s, Greenhill A, Cistercian or TAG, they’ll need to drastically improve their powers, as they had half the amount that each of those four teams did.
- Plano West B – This is a strong team with a lot of potential, as proven by their impressive victory over the widely respected Coppell A. They had a strong bonus conversion of 20.90, allowing them to outpace many teams with similar tossup numbers. This team appears to be able to buzz across the distribution, with strong knowledge in fine arts, mythology, and science.
- St. Mark’s B – St. Mark’s B had a solid run, coming to an end with a tight loss to Parish Episcopal in the octofinals. Led by strong science player Miki Ghosh, they were able to play close matches against the aforementioned Parish and also against Jasper A. Similarly to Parish, however, Miki accounted for nearly the entirety of his teams points and will need help going forward. That said, his teammate Tomek Marczewski, who is new to quiz bowl, has exceptional history and trash knowledge coming in, and should be very good with a bit of studying. With their average of 1.9 powers a game and 16 points per bonus, they will need to drastically improve these numbers if they want to hang with other teams in the region and qualify St. Mark’s a second spot at HSNCT later in May.
- Jasper A – With the loss of the entirety of last year’s A team that went 5-5 at HSNCT (Jasper is the 9-10th grade school that feeds into Plano West for junior and senior year), this was seen as a rebuilding year going into the tournament. With that in mind, they were able to put together a respectable day overall, going 1-1 in the playoffs. Sophomore Vishnuu Gopi led the team with 42.5 points per game, but the main thing that held Jasper back throughout the tournament was their frequent negging. They averaged 2.6 negs per game, which came out to be the highest in the field. This was most likely due to playing in their first tournament ever, but there is plenty of room for improvement going forward (they at their next tournaments, and even next year when these players will be under Plano West.
- Coppell A – Led by Vishal Sivamani, one of the top generalists in the area, this team is a lot better than their finish suggests. They played tournament winner Cistercian in prelims, and lost by 1 question to both Plano West A and B, meaning they were seeded very low in playoffs, where, tired and disillusioned, they were defeated handily by Tag Magnet. They had a respectable 3.75 powers per game and 19.09 points per bonus, good but not exceptional statistics. However, this team does not have very far to go to beat top teams. More contributions from Vishal’s teammates along with an increase in stamina would certainly propel this team to the top 10 at the very least.
- Coppell B – Despite their name, this is not actually a B team but rather an entirely separate program of quiz bowlers from Coppell. Led by Nikita Nair, another strong generalist and a formidable literature player, this team came within 1 question of St. Mark’s on their way to a solid octos finish. However, this team will have to work on statistical consistency in order to actually beat these top teams, as their 16.50 ppb hurt them significantly in a lot of otherwise close games. If this team becomes more familiar with the canon or combines with the Coppell A team, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
- Texas Math and Science A- Like Jasper, TAMS graduated a large majority of a team that went 5-5 at HSNCT, but it seems that TAMS may not have as similar as Jasper, who is 2 years their junior. While they were able to go 3-3 in the prelims, all of their wins came against teams that failed to reach the octofinals. Hopefully they can add to their meager 15 points per bonus and have a chance to go and make a solid run at HSNCT for the second year in a row.
Josh Rubel is currently a sophomore at the Greenhill School in Addison, Texas. Ned Tagtmeier is currently a junior at St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas, Texas.