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New York Dominates a Field of Equally-matched Teams

Because of the number of “powerful teams” advancing, this has to be the most exciting “Super Sunday” ever. Just look at the scores. We’ve analyzed the scores and have come up with a list of fully nine teams that we argue were good enough, on “any given Sunday,” to come away champs:

  1. Rancho Bernardo (CA), defeated by Byram Hills (NY) in overtime.
  2. Russellville (AR), losing to Tartan (MN), 335-280.
  3. Roseville (MN), defeated by Hunter College High (NY) 380-365.
  4. Hunter College High, ranked No. 1 entering the playoffs, edged by Byram Hills, 410-390.
  5. New Orleans Jesuit, losing to Byram Hills 385-350.
  6. Booker T. Washington (OK), falling to Hastings A (NY), 380-370.
  7. Hastings A (NY), eliminated by Tartan in the semifinals, 405-395.
  8. Tartan (MN), advancing to the finals.
  9. Byram Hills, advancing to the finals.

This year’s best game

First-timer Rancho Bernardo led Byram Hills 80-40 at the end of the first period. The California team widened their lead to 180-105 in the bonus round, highlighted by their sweeps of the BUILDING CONSTRUCTION and HISTORY categories. Byram Hills drew to within 15 points of the lead after they advanced 80-10 on WEIGHTS & MEASURES while Rancho Bernardo advanced only 40-30 on the Mystery Category, ELEMENTS. In the final round, Byram Hills scored on these answers: √7/4, Arroyo, the Venezuelan bolivar, Condoleeza Rice, and gallows humor. Rancho Bernardo scored on these answers: Paganini, J'accuse, Mock epic, Phillis Wheatley, and Cholesterol. At the end of the game, the score was tied at 335!

In overtime, Rancho Bernardo scored on Ella Fitzgerald, Edwin Hubble, Ceteris paribus, Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Mel Brooks, higher math, and “Thanatopsis.” Byram Hills was right on Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, and “The Sorcerer's Apprentice.” The game was still tied and would go into a second overtime!

Rancho Bernardo scored on Ultraviolet radiation, Supreme Court clerk, Hemingway, and Allen Ginsberg. Byram Hills scored on Barcarolle, Mechanical energy, a trig problem, McCulloch v. Maryland, Timbuktu, Olduvai Gorge, Rue Morgue, Primer, and Ada Lovelace. The New York team won the game in the second overtime period.


Three of the four semifinalists were New York teams: Hunter College High from Manhattan; Hastings and Byram Hills from Westchester County.

Tartan High School, 10-1, advanced all the way to the finals in their first year at Nationals – only 10 points behind at the final bell, an all-time record narrow margin in the title match.


The Finals

Coach Doug Norlander brought the Tartan High team to Nationals for the first time. Coach Martin Gilbert has joined us so many times that we’ll have to check the archives. Tartan participated in a few of our Saturday virtual tournaments but didn’t win any. Byram Hills won our Great Lakes Academic Challenge.

Tartan led after the first quarter, 70-50. Byram Hills cut their lead by ten in the Bonus Round, which saw Tartan sweep this bonus:

Complete the titles of these Rudyard Kipling works.

(5) The Man Who Would Be …

Ans. King

(10) Just So …

Ans. Stories

(15) Barrack-Room …

Ans. Ballads

and Byram Hills sweep this:


(5) Adjective for a relationship that may be beneficial to both organisms involved.

Ans. Symbiotic

(10) A meeting of experts to discuss a specific subject is called what?

Ans. Symposium

(15) Patty Hearst joined what “Army”?

Ans. Symbionese Liberation Army

Tartan seemed to pull away during the 70 seconds round, after they swept the PHILOSOPHY-BASED CROSSWORD CLUES category and Byram Hills advance 70-10 in T MINUS TEN AND COUNTING. The score at the start of the fourth quarter was 270-200 in favor of the Minnesota team. The key to Byram Hills’s comeback was their knowledge of Russian composers and the Cyrillic alphabet as they gained 40 points on these:

VISUAL … I’ve got the titles of two works of classical music by Russian composers in the original language. Name the composer.

1 Шахерезада

Ans. Rimsky-Korsakov (Scheherazade)

2. ленинградская симфония

Ans. Shostakovich (Leningrad Symphony)

In addition, Byram Hills stole these three questions:

The first stopped the German race to the seas; the second marked the debut of poison gas and again the Germans lost but in the third the British made little headway while losing 300,000 men. By what collective name do we know these World War I battles?

Ans. Ypres

In order, identify the three given ratios as approximations for three very important irrational numbers: 355/113, 99/70, 878/323 .

Ans. pi, radical 2 (square root of 2), e

And this one came on the last question, with Tartan ahead by 10. Tartan was unable to answer it but Byram Hills was: Given that the diameter of the sun is 865,370 miles, what unit is being used if the diameter of the sun is given as 4.64 of those units?

Ans. Light seconds

The final score was 360-350 in favor of Byram Hills -- their second national championship title; the first was in 2006.

Byram Hills won four of their five playoff games by the skin of their teeth. National Champions.


Rookie of the Year

There was a goodly number of outstanding first-timers. Rookie of the Year honors are shared by Tartan, which finished 2nd in the nation, and Hunter College High, which ranked 2nd in points per game average. Rancho Bernardo gets honorable mention.

Scoring Leaders

We’re always interested in how a team’s points per game average correlates with their tournament final rank. Seldom does a given team win both. No. 1 in the nation Byram Hills finished 3rd, with a 340 avg; Hunter College High finished 2nd at 342 and Hastings A finished first at 347. Russellville was 4th and Roseville was 5th.

Small School Champs

We crown a champion from among the “small schools” that come to Nationals (defined as any school with 500 or fewer students in grades 10-12 and a non-selective admissions policy). Hastings, with their best team ever, won it this year for the seventh time. One of these days, Hastings is going to win it all.


Mario Valento showed all the qualities of a great captain – listening to all suggestions of his teammates, relaying the correct answer to the moderator in timely fashion. He earned this year’s MVP award.

Mario Valento

Qualifying for 2022 Nationals

Keep in mind that all 2021 playoff teams have automatically qualified for NAC XL. Return to QUnlimited.com in September, when information on our Saturday virtual tournaments and 3-2-1 events will be posted. We will also provide details on next year's National Academic Championship.

Hall of Fame

  • Mike Keller (Irmo, SC, '85-87)
  • Eric Evans (Granville, OH, '88-89)
  • Jim Paluszak (Dorman, SC, '89-91)
  • Matt Bruce (Booker T. Washington, OK, '89-92)
  • Mark Staloff (East Brunswick, NJ, '94)
  • Brad Rutter (Manheim Township, PA, '92-95)
  • Brad Harris (James Island, SC, '92-95)
  • Amanda Goad (Governor's School, VA, '93-96)
  • Scott Petty (Houston Eisenhower '95 and Houston Memorial '96)
  • Justin Powell (James Island, SC '95-98)
  • Ryan Cooper (James Island, SC '95-99)
  • Jonathan Hess (Irmo, SC, 1998-2002)
  • Sara Sheer (Horace Greeley, 2001-2004)
  • Matt Pargeter (Holland Hall, OK, 2002-2005)
  • Nate Mattison (Byram Hills, NY, 2004-2006
  • Fuhe Xu (Harrison, IN, 2004-2007)
  • Ariel Schneider (Harrison, IN, 2004-2007)
  • Dylan Hames (Booker T. Washington, OK, 2006-2008)
  • Alex Pijanowski (Harrison, IN, 2011-2013)
  • Max Smiley (Horace Greeley, 2013-2014)
  • Kevin Yokum (New Orleans Jesuit, 2013-2014)
  • Luke Minton (El Paso Coronado, 2013-2015)
  • Jaskaran Singh (Plano West, 2017-2018)
  • Brian Li (Pingry, 2020)

winners of our 39 tournaments

  • 1983 -- Walt Whitman (Bethesda, MD)
  • 1984 -- Wheelersburg (Wheelersburg, OH)
  • 1985 -- Skyline (Dallas, TX)
  • 1986 -- Irmo (Columbia, SC)
  • 1987 -- Walnut Ridge (Columbus, OH)
  • 1988 -- Eleanor Roosevelt (Greenbelt, MD)
  • 1989 -- Dorman (Spartanburg, SC)
  • 1990 -- Collegiate (Richmond, VA)
  • 1991 -- Dorman (Spartanburg, SC)
  • 1992 -- Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, OK)
  • 1993 -- Torrey Pines (San Diego, CA)
  • 1994 -- East Brunswick (NJ)
  • 1995 -- Governor's School (Richmond, VA)
  • 1996 -- Houston Memorial (TX)
  • 1997 -- Edison (Huntington Beach, CA)
  • 1998 -- State College Area (PA)
  • 1999 -- James Island (SC)
  • 2000 -- Manheim Township (PA)
  • 2001 -- Irmo (Columbia, SC)
  • 2002 -- Irmo (Columbia, SC)
  • 2003 -- Horace Greeley (Chappaqua, NY)
  • 2004 -- St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN)
  • 2005 -- Holland Hall (Tulsa, OK)
  • 2006 -- Byram Hills (Armonk, NY)
  • 2007 -- Harrison (West Lafayette, IN)
  • 2008 -- Booker T. Washington (Tulsa, OK)
  • 2009 -- John Cooper (The Woodlands, TX)
  • 2010 -- Zionsville (Zionsville, IN)
  • 2011 -- Harrison (West Lafayette, IN)
  • 2012 -- University of Detroit Jesuit (MI)
  • 2013 -- Horace Greeley (Chappaqua, NY)
  • 2014 -- Jesuit (New Orleans, LA)
  • 2015 -- Coronado (El Paso, TX)
  • 2016 -- Daviess County (Owensboro, KY)
  • 2017 -- Zionsville (Zionsville, IN
  • 2018 -- Plano West (TX)
  • 2019 -- University of Detroit Jesuit (MI)
  • 2020 -- Pingry (Basking Ridge, NJ)
  • 2021 -- Byram Hills (Armonk, NY)