Houston Holiday Hoedown XI Writeup

The following article was a guest contribution by Robert Condron.

On December 14, eighteen teams competed on IS-188 in Division I of Houston Holiday Hoedown XI at Strake Jesuit in Houston. In this write-up, I will be discussing the performances of the top teams at this tournament and share some insights into Southern Texas quiz bowl. To keep this write-up brief, I will only discuss the teams who scored more than 20 points per bonus or qualified for HSNCT.

Strake Jesuit A: Finishing the day 10-1, Strake Jesuit scored 24.54 points per bonus and averaged 9.5 powers per game. Michael Artlip is the team’s science player. Isean Bhalla is a strong geography player who also covers fine arts. Pablo Lloyd’s strongest category is literature, and he buzzes well on mythology and fine arts. Robert Condron is a lit-focused generalist who also covers current events. Isean, Pablo, and Robert each cover some history, a possible weakness for the team on more difficult questions.

Cinco Ranch A: After tough schedules in both the preliminary and playoff rounds, Cinco Ranch took second place this weekend, losing to Strake Jesuit A in the finals. This team of two freshmen and two sophomores put up strong numbers: 5.8 powers per game and 20.09 points per bonus. Sophomore Aaryan Sagar was Cinco Ranch A’s top scorer and also had the second most powers of any player at the tournament. They defeated LASA A, Strake Jesuit B, and James E. Taylor A in three consecutive elimination rounds, demonstrating their ability to compete at a high level in afternoon matches.

Carnegie Vanguard A: Carnegie Vanguard A had a strong performance, placing third place after a loss to Strake Jesuit in the semi-finals. Their bonus conversion on the day was 23.82, and they averaged 7.9 powers per game. The team includes 3 members of last year’s tied-31st HSNCT team: Arnav Burgudgunte, Daniel Lee, and Andy Zhu. William Chen joined Carnegie’s top varsity team for the first time. Arnav and Andy are both strong generalists; Arnav is especially good at fine arts, and Andy’s strongest category is literature. Daniel is one of the strongest science players in Texas. I am looking forward to seeing how their fourth player situation develops, as Carnegie is already a contender for the state championship.

LASA A: Even without their excellent history player/NAQT specialist Chinmay Murthy, LASA A scored 21.65 points per bonus and averaged 6.6 powers per game. Lena Birkholz, Schuyler Colfax, and Will DiCarlo all have HSNCT experience, and they had impressive buzzes in literature, history and science this Saturday. With the coaching of Mr. Flowers and Mr. Escandell, I expect LASA to continue to improve this year, meaning that they will be contenders for the state championship, as well as having the potential to continue LASA’s recent success at HSNCT.

Strake Jesuit C: This team of four juniors played well, powering 4.1 questions per game and earning 21.20 points per bonus. Considering the team’s weaknesses in non-science or literature categories, this was a good result for this group of players and for Strake Jesuit’s program, since this team was one Strake Jesuit’s three that performed well enough to qualify for HSNCT.

James E. Taylor A: James E. Taylor A had a solid performance, with an average of 3.5 powers per game and 20.90 points per bonus. Their Groger Score for the day was more than 5 points above their weighted score for the year, even with the absence of Katie Sturzu, their 2nd scorer at Harvard Fall. Mitchell Shadden, who had a very impressive 23 powers at HSNCT, led the team in scoring. Even without any seniors on the team, Taylor performed well enough to qualify for HSNCT. If they continue to improve this quickly, Taylor has the potential for a high finish at state and a strong HSNCT performance.

Strake Jesuit B: This all-sophomore team played well at HoHoHo, with 4.7 powers per game and a bonus conversion of 20.11. If they can improve their science coverage, Strake Jesuit B will have the chance to have an impressive HSNCT. Strake Jesuit’s program is quite deep this year, meaning that this roster may change throughout the year.

Seven Lakes A: Seven Lakes A had another HSNCT-qualifying performance, but more impressively, the same four players that had an 18.44 bonus conversion two months ago on IS-186 scored 20.33 points per bonus this weekend on IS-188. They also averaged 4.4 powers per game this weekend. I have only played against Seven Lakes A once this year in October, so I can’t speak to this team’s particular strengths. But their improvement so far shows that they are strong enough to upset top teams in Texas.

Bellaire A: Bellaire A had a good showing, powering 4.7 tossups per game and scoring 20.11 points per bonus. Alkiviades Boukas led the team in powers and points per game, and he received solid support from Letian Li, Connie Lin, and Allen Xue; Allen had an impressive line of 7-16-0. While they had good power numbers and a good bonus conversion, Bellaire had the second most negs per game of any team at HoHoHo. But in my experience, reducing negs can be easier than improving power or bonus numbers, so I think Bellaire A has a lot of potential for growth this year.

Robert Condron is a senior at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston, Texas.

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