Torch: WI - Page 3

PAGE 3 MICHAEL’S CERTAMEN PREDICTIONS About the Author: Michael Kearney is a four time WJCL State Certamen champion and has captained the Wisconsin Nationals team each of the past three years. He has won Nationals Certamen at least seven times in his sleep and currently serves as the National Junior Classical League First Vice President. 1. Florida As much as it pains me, who else could it be? Florida is the perennial powerhouse of the past decade—and if not for the final tossup of novice last year, they would have achieved the coveted Certamen sweep. Nonetheless, Florida returns National Champions from both Intermediate and Advanced—including Hall of Famers Noah McThenia, Graham Hardcastle, et al. Although Florida’s powerhouse Oak Hall fell in the finals of the GA-FL tournament to Boston Latin School, it should still fancy its chances—Florida is much more than Oak Hall, and it will remain to be seen whether the same can be said about Massachusetts and BLS. Key player: Florida, above all else, is renowned for its depth. Keep an eye out for Graham Hardcastle and Noah Harris but know that anyone on the team will do serious damage 2. Massachusetts Despite my previous statement, running a gauntlet that includes the Yale, Harvard, and GA-FL Certamen tournaments cannot be marginalized. Massachusetts retains National Champions (Intermediate, UNLV 2013) William and Michael Gao (to be immortalized as the constellation Gemini if they win) as well as Nestoras Apodiakos (conspicuously absent from Nationals last year). The question that remains is whether they able to replicate their form from more regional Certamina at the highest level. If they do, God help us all. Key Player: Someone, anyone, that’s not from BLS—if only to look pretty up on stage. 3. Georgia The loss of grammarian Vinu Eranezhath (yes, I did have to look up how to spell that) hits hard—the jury is still out on who the replacement will be (and indeed, if they can measure up). Even so, the solid core of historian Bryan Wu and literarian (yes, I just invented that) Lucy Wang should still prove trouble for most teams. Georgia’s star seemed to be rising when it won its first championship in 2014 but a disappointing semi-final performance in Advanced last year left them reeling—this year may prove to be a catalyst for the future or perhaps, although unlikely, the beginning of a slow slide back into anonymity. Key Player: Whoever ends up as mythologian and grammarian—will they be able to face up to the pressure? 4. Wisconsin Sure, call me biased, I probably am—but hear me out. Wisconsin has not had a true powerhouse team since the days of Sidhi Gosain and Ketan Ramakrishnan and although this team may not be knowledgeable or practiced enough to recapture the magic, it will possibly be the best Wisconsin team we see this decade. There is the potential to be great— but potential means very little up on the big stage. Key Player: Margot Armbruster (and no, I’m not saying that because I’m writing this article for her). Wisconsin generally does not lack for specialty players but rarely, if ever, finds a true grammarian—Margot could be she. 5. Texas I briefly entertained the possibility of ranking Texas lower than fifth—but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. No matter what, Texas always turns up at the National Level. Experience is found in Cass Plowman (Academic decathlon winner as a sophomore), Colby Lorenz, and Ishmael Abubara, all three of whom played on a talented Texas team last year. Expect Texas to rack up the points against lesser quality competition (I’m famously reminded of Texas Novice’s 805 points in prelims at Emory) but possibly struggle against teams made of tougher mettle (I’m also famously reminded of that same Texas Novice team at Emory, which failed to advance out of semifinals). Key Player: Cass Plowman—he clearly has the knowledge and, more often that not, the speed on the buzzer. However, he may struggle to find his feet on a Texas team with which he is not entirely comfortable (he tends to play as a 1-man team for his school, LASA)—but if he does, there may be no stopping the Lone Star State. 6. Virginia Again, I briefly considered dropping Virginia below the Top 6—and again I couldn’t bring myself to do it. We have the team—Ryan Klopp, Merritt Schwartz, Sayeed Akhtar, and Jocelyn Robertson—and frankly, I know very little about most of these players. I’m counting mostly on Virginia’s ability to consistently turn out a quality team and the fact that it’s generally unwise to bet against a state with caliber of Virginia. Key Player: Merritt Schwartz. The most recognizable name on that list, he is the man whom I expect will be the lynchpin around which this team is based. PAGE 3 MICHAEL’S CERTAMEN PREDICTIONS About the Author: Michael Kearney is a four time WJCL State Certamen champion and has captained the Wisconsin Nationals team each of the past three years. He has won Nationals Certamen at least seven times in his sleep and currently serves as the National Junior Classical League First Vice President. 1. Florida As much as it pains me, who else could it be? Florida is the perennial powerhouse of the past decade—and if not for the final tossup of novice last year, they would have achieved the coveted Certamen sweep. Nonetheless, Florida returns National Champions from both Intermediate and Advanced—including Hall of Famers Noah McThenia, Graham Hardcastle, et al. Although Florida’s powerhouse Oak Hall fell in the finals of the GA-FL tournament to Boston Latin School, it should still fancy its chances—Florida is much more than Oak Hall, and it will remain to be seen whether the same can be said about Massachusetts and BLS. Key player: Florida, above all else, is renowned for its depth. Keep an eye out for Graham Hardcastle and Noah Harris but know that anyone on the team will do serious damage 2. Massachusetts Despite my previous statement, running a gauntlet that includes the Yale, Harvard, and GA-FL Certamen tournaments cannot be marginalized. Massachusetts retains National Champions (Intermediate, UNLV 2013) William and Michael Gao (to be immortalized as the constellation Gemini if they win) as well as Nestoras Apodiakos (conspicuously absent from Nationals last year). The question that remains is whether they able to replicate their form from more regional Certamina at the highest level. If they do, God help us all. Key Player: Someone, anyone, that’s not from BLS—if only to look pretty up on stage. 3. Georgia The loss of grammarian Vinu Eranezhath (yes, I did have to look up how to spell that) hits hard—the jury is still out on who the replacement will be (and indeed, if they can measure up). 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