2017 HSNCT Preview: Minnesota’s Teams

The 2017 NAQT High School National Championship Tournament is being held May 27-28 in Atlanta, Georgia. At 304 teams, it is poised to become the largest quiz bowl tournament ever held, and there will be 24 teams from Minnesota competing for hardware. Play Quiz Bowl is pleased to provide a preview of these teams (plus one honorable mention) heading into HSNCT weekend, with info on their performances over the season.

Burnsville

School: Burnsville High School
Coach: Les Moffitt
Number of teams: 2
Probable starters: Blake Andert (senior), Connor Van Dorpe (senior), Nick Schatz (junior), Matthew Fischer (junior)
2016-17 Highlights: South Suburban Conference champions, 4th place in MNHSQB League, 5th place at NAQT State Championship

Les Moffitt has turned Burnsville into one of the state’s top programs, with two straight top-5 finishes at the NAQT State Championship. Their “A” team will retain three of the four players that went 7-3 in the prelims of last year’s HSNCT. Senior Blake Andert is Burnsville’s highest scoring player ever (per NAQT per-game statistics) and is coming off an 80 PPG performance at the Wisconsin spring tournament, at which Burnsville went 10-0.

Chanhassen

School: Chanhassen High School
Coach: Kate Martens
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Karsen Megrenes (junior), Mitchell Mollet (sophomore), Alex Gannon (freshman), Nick Berg (junior)
2016-17 Highlights: 9th place at Run for the Roses

Chanhassen’s core players have improved quickly, and none of its “A” team members are seniors. Their strong performance at this year’s Run for the Roses suggest they’re peaking at the right time, with ample time to continue to get better.

Chaska

School: Chaska High School
Coach: Chris Lenius
Number of teams: 2
Probable starters: Sean Zipse (senior), Coby Oertel (senior), William Saathoff (senior), Colton Juell (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: 4th place at NAQT State Championship, 5th place at Run for the Roses, 2nd place at Metro West Conference Championship

Chaska has a long history of strong teams on the Minnesota circuit, and this year was no exception. This will be the last hurrah for this team of seniors, which includes Coby Oertel and Sean Zipse, whose career PPG puts them in Chaska’s all-time top 10. Chaska also finished third in the state’s Knowledge Bowl meet, the highest finish of any team also competing at HSNCT.

Eden Prairie

School: Eden Prairie High School
Coach: Josh Axtman, Alyssa Jackson
Number of teams: 3
Probable starters: Nibir Sarma (junior), Carter Rislove (senior), Winston Chen (junior), Clay Crepps (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: NAQT State Champions, 2nd place at SNOW CAT, 2nd place at WIZARD, 4th place at GINVIT

Eden Prairie found itself in familiar territory this season, pulling off a win at the state championship over their own B team. Their showing at the MNHSQB playoffs was not as strong, in large part due to a somewhat shorthanded roster. Their ideal “A” team is very well balanced, with strong players in across the NAQT distribution. They finished 7-3 in last year’s HSNCT prelims; they return two players from that team and add Nibir Sarma, whose 40 PPG on EP’s “C” team last year was the second-highest of any Eden Prairie player.

Hopkins

School: Hopkins High School
Coach: John Sammler
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: John Vaaler (junior), Maxim Peng (senior), Jack Selinger (junior), Armand Martinez (junior)
2016-17 Highlights: 13th place in MNHSQB Leauge, 9th place at WIZARD

Hopkins has been anchored by John Vaaler and Maxim Peng for a couple of seasons now, and will have them both in tow at HSNCT. John finished in the top 5 in scoring at this season’s GINVIT, as was in the top 10 in the state in scoring during MNHSQB League. This is the school’s first appearance at HSNCT since 2012.

Minnetonka

School: Minnetonka High School
Coach: Judith Thomas
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Parthiv Krishna (sophomore), Max Meyer (freshman), Isaac Schrof (senior), Drew Dutton (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: 9th place at Run for the Roses, 9th place at WIZARD

The future looks bright for Minnetonka, who counts two underclassmen (Max Meyer and Parthiv Krishan) among its strongest players. They have been formidable this year when at full strength, and will be looking to match or improve upon their performance at their last HSNCT appearance (2014, 5-5).

Mounds Park

School: Mounds Park Academy
Coach: Jay Noland
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Sidney Carlson White (senior), Teja Upadhyaya (senior), Nick Samsel (senior), Ben George (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: 4th place at SSNCT (Charter/Private), 2nd place at GINVIT, 4th place at SNOW CAT, 4th place at Run for the Roses

It’s the end of an era for Mounds Park – this tournament will be the last high school meet for Sidney Carlson White, who was by far the state’s top scorer at MNHSQB League and finished with 100 or more PPG six times this season. He’ll be at Yale in the fall. MPA’s middle school team recorded a historic 2nd place finish at MSNCT this year, but none of those players (including star in the making Isak Dai) will be on the HSNCT squad.

Mounds View

School: Mounds View High School
Coach: Justin Benolkin
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: William Amendola Bye (junior), Justin Duffy (senior), Joey Floeder (senior), Aryan Sehgal (freshman)
2016-17 Highlights: 9th place at WIZARD, 13th place at MNHSQB League, 17th place at Run for the Roses

Mounds View’s William Amendola Bye and Justin Duffy are the two highest-scoring players in Mounds View history according to NAQT’s database. They ended with a 5-5 finish at last year’s HSNCT, and both will be back to compete again this year, as will senior Joey Floeder. Their “A” team was an impressive 10-2 in divisional play during the MNHSQB League, during which they handed Isak Dai’s Mounds Park C team its only loss.

Orono

School: Orono High School
Coach: Larry Williams
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Gavin Mueller (freshman), Jeremy Skalla (junior), Owen Albrecht (junior), Ben Greiber (junior)
2016-17 Highlights: 9th place at MNHSQB League, 9th place at SOCIAL, 17th place at Run for the Roses

Freshman Gavin Mueller led Orono in points during the MNHSQB League season, where they eliminated a strong St. Louis Park team during the playoffs. The rest of the team is all juniors, who have all improved since their appearance at last year’s HSNCT, where they finished 4-6.

Providence

School: Providence Academy
Coach: Kevin Keiser
Number of teams: 2
Probable starters: Ryan Heaney (senior), Marty Partoll (senior), Natalie Heyda (senior), Derek Onserio (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: 6th place at MNHSQB League, 5th place at SOCIAL, 9th place at RATRACE

Providence Academy is relatively new to quiz bowl – their first season was 2013-14 – but they have already established themselves as a very strong presence in the local circuit. This year’s “A” team wen 11-1 in League play, losing only to Wayzata A. They did not play in many Saturday tournaments this season, but always finished strong when they did appear – senior Ryan Heaney was the 8th-highest scorer at RATRACE, and will likely lead the team in Atlanta.

Robbinsdale Armstrong

School: Robbinsdale Armstrong High School
Coach: Phil Wiese
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Matthew Penick (junior), Julianne Brandes (junior), Felicia Peterson (junior), Daniel Anderson (junior)
2016-17 Highlights: 5th place at WIZARD, 17th place at Run for the Roses

Armstrong is in its first year since the departure of long-time coach Matt Quinn, though new coach Phil Wiese has led the team to several solid finishes. Matthew Penick has taken former standout Jack Brandes’s place as the team’s leader and was one of the state’s top juniors this year – his 81 PPG was good for 5th overall in League scoring.

St. Louis Park

School: St. Louis Park High School
Coach: Peter Dangerfield
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Will Poulter (senior), Nick Kasic (senior), Jack Wheeler (senior), Danny Hunegs (sophomore)
2016-17 Highlights: Metro West Conference Champions, 9th place at NAQT State Championships, 13th place at MNHSQB League

Over the last few seasons, St. Louis Park has emerged as a serious contender on the state’s circuit, finishing in the top 10 at each of the last two state championships. They ran the table to win the Metro West Conference title; Will Poulter led that tournament in scoring with 78 PPG.

St. Paul Academy

School: St. Paul Academy and Summit School
Coach: Kate Lockwood
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Peter Blanchfield (junior), Coleman Thompson (senior), Paul Watkins (senior), Phoebe Pannier (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: 6th in MNHSQB League, 2nd at Run for the Roses

At this season’s WIZARD, SPA’s Peter Blanchfield went undefeated during the morning session playing solo, and earned the tournament’s overall scoring title. With teammates, he and the rest of SPA reached the finals of Run for the Roses, beating both Burnsville and Mounds Park in the process.

Wayzata

School: Wayzata High School
Coach: Meaghan Decker, Brian Decker
Number of teams: 6
Probable starters: Tora Husar (junior), Joe Kammann (junior), Ashmita Sarma (senior), Kush Maheshwari (junior)
2016-17 Highlights: MNHSQB League Champions, 1st place at Run for the Roses, 1st place at GINVIT, 1st place at SNOW CAT, 3rd place at NAQT State Championships

Wayzata is bringing a preposterous six teams to HSNCT this year, but all eyes will be on their “A” team. While they faltered slightly at the state championship, it would be fair to say that Wayzata dominated the circuit this season. Typically anchored by Tora Husar and Joe Kammann (both juniors), Wayzata A’s record on the MN circuit this season was 93-2, with one of those losses coming against their own C team at RATRACE. At least year’s HSNCT, Wayzata finished tied for 13th – can they improve upon that this year?

Honorable Mention: Hudson

School: Hudson High School
Coach: Roberta Naujok
Number of teams: 1
Probable starters: Jaxon Renn (senior), Nick Janssen (junior), Nick Hanson (junior), Ryan Harper (senior)
2016-17 Highlights: 1st place at Holmen High Invitational, 17th place at Run for the Roses

While Hudson is across the border from Minnesota, it does compete on the Minnesota circuit, and will also be attending HSNCT this year. They narrowly missed the MNHSQB League playoffs despite a very strong 8-4 record, as this year’s south division was stacked. This team is no slouch, however – they won the Holmen High Invitational in April, against a field that included Burnsville and Stoughton, another of Wisconsin’s best teams.

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