Torch: WI - Page 6

by michael kearney

advanced certamen predictions

1. Florida

Just the novice title last year—is it possible they’re regressing? Not likely. Last summer’s runners-up return seniors Aspen Bombardo and Noah McThenia, and certainly have the talent to retool at grammar. While Yale and Harvard performances suggest openings for other states, this writer cautions that those were partial teams. The pedigree is beyond question, and anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.

Key player: Aspen Bombardo wears many hats—literature, history, the captaincy. If she manages to juggle them all, it’s difficult to see anyone beating Florida.

2. Wisconsin

The defending champions have gone from strength to strength since Nationals, besting a strong field at Yale in their only full outing of the past year. With the addition of historian Jason Tan and the growth of Adam Abuhajir, they are well on their way to replacing Michael Kearney. Nevertheless, it will not be easy going for our heroes, who find themselves in the unfamiliar position of playing the favorite. They’ll need some more magic, but who’s to say it can’t happen again?

Key player: Margot Armbruster. I’m writing this article for her.

3. Georgia

You all know their middle name, but their Certamen team remains a mystery. Will Lucy Wang return? Can Bryan ‘Shaozi’ Wu put the team on his back? He might just, you know.

Key player: A grammarian. Specialty players win matches, linguists win championships.

4. Illinois

The most underrated team in the country. Only losing literarian Lina Kapp, Illinois look to improve upon last year’s performance, when they were unlucky to draw Florida despite being the #1 seed, and I expect them to do so.

Key player: Samir Al-Ali is the most remarkable grammarian I’ve ever seen, capable of making impossible buzzes with regularity.

5. Massachusetts

Gone are the days of Jeff Dubuisson, Amol Punjabi, and the Gaos—the question on everyone’s lips is “how will Massachusetts handle the rebuilding process?” Only time will tell. Grammarian Nestoras Apodiakos returns to anchor a team that, while high on potential, lacks somewhat in advanced experience. My early favorite for next year, Massachussetts could surprise this July.

Key player: Jonathan Yuan impressed me at Yale this year, putting up big numbers against strong opposition. Massachusetts will need career performances from him if they hope to make the finals.

6. Virginia

Virginia look to build on recent successes to capture an advanced title, which has eluded them since 2008. On paper, in fact, Virginia look top 3—they add Intermediate MVP Simon Van Der Weide to a team which has already made a finals—but a lack of a top literature player could prove fatal. They could run out of gas against a more complete team.

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Above: Georgia competes in the 2016 Advanced Semifinals. Photo by Eric Wang.

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