Bergen County Academies
The Bergen County Academies quiz bowl team competes at both the state and national level. It was the New Jersey State Champion in the 2006-2007 season and finished tied for 11th at the 2008 NAQT HSNCT.
The team was founded in the 2000-01 season and received a wild card invitation to play at the 2001 HSNCT, where they finished 3-7. In the 2002 NJ state championship, they went undefeated in the round-robin, but lost a one-game final to Millburn. The program's first victory came in a Jeopardy-style tournament at Columbia High School in November 2002. Amusingly, said tournament was won by Bergen Academy B, which had defeated Bergen Academy A in the semifinals. Later that season, the team (synecdochically playing as "AAST") won the regional Science Bowl tournament.
They made the playoffs in the 2005 NAQT HSNCT, led by senior Harry Altman. The team ran into some trouble in the 2005-2006 season as their long time coach, Mr. Jason Sayres, left. Throughout the year they were more or less without a coach. Nevertheless, the team itself showed promise, beating Wilmington Charter A to win the 2005 Long Island Fall Tournament, along with several other tournaments in the area. Unfortunately, the logistic issues created by a lack of a coach caused them to be unable to participate in the 2006 NAQT HSNCT. Finally, at the end of the year, they gained Robert Scarpone, a former Jeopardy champion, as a coach. The 2006-2007 was a bit of a rebuilding year, after the loss of several talented seniors. Nevertheless, the team won the 2007 State Championship (which may be due to several New Jersey teams boycotting it) and finished tied for 33rd at the 2007 NAQT HSNCT.
The 2007-2008 season started under yet another coach, Mr. Richard Wasek, and once again saw the loss of several talented seniors. Nevertheless, the team improved greatly throughout the season, winning several tournaments including the Fall KMO and the first ever experimental Goldfish tournament. Entering the 2008 NAQT HSNCT, the team had gotten a resounding zero votes in the pre-nationals poll and shocked many (including themselves) by finishing tied for 11th with 6 other teams, by far their best finish at a HSNCT.
In 2008, the team started with another coach, Dr. Michael Abramson, who previously coached the team in 2005. Losing some talented seniors, but seeing some potent players become seniors, Bergen prepared themselves for a big season. They started on the right path with a win at the Princeton High School Tournament with three players, earning the season's first trophy to be displayed proudly under Dr. Abramson's laptop cart. Late in the year, Dr. Abramson informed the team he no longer wished to be coach, and the team then worked with Mr. Dan Baker, as well as Jon Pinyan, an alumnus of the team who was student-teaching at the time. The team continued to thrive, winning a tournament at Livingston in March. At the HSNCT, the team went 8-2 in the preliminary rounds and defeated Francis Howell Central and Thomas Jefferson (VA) in close playoff games before losing to eventual champion Wilmington Charter and LASA to finish tied for 17th.
In April 2009, after two previous false starts, the program hosted its first tournament, the Bergen Open Academic Tournament (BOAT). Hunter defeated Kellenberg in a two-game final, after the latter survived a circle of death with Hunter B and Charter B. Three weeks later, the school was the site (although Stephen Fineman of Chatham was the tournament director) for the state championship, won by St. Joseph.
With the graduation of leading scorer Watson Ladd, the BCA team was ranked 30th in Fred Morlan's preseason list and only on 2 of 11 preseason top-25 ballots. Nevertheless, the team had a number of strong performances. Bergen finished runner-up at PHSAT, losing 235-360 to Charter; 4th and 6th at LIFT, with the B team defeating Charter in a playoff round; 2nd at Delaware Open, losing the final 230-255 to Richard Montgomery; 3rd at Half Hollow Hills; 2nd at the state championship, losing the final 280-335 to St. Joseph.
The team also hosted a mirror of Dunbar's DAFT in December. After a late start due to a no-show team, the tournament ran smoothly and was won by Hunter over St. Joseph.
Questions about Bergen
With several somewhat notable alumni, occasionally a tossup or bonus will be about a former student of the school. Harry Altman, a memorable subject in the documentary Spellbound appears from time to time (oddly enough, Harry himself played quizbowl for several seasons, meaning he could have potentially answered a tossup or bonus about himself, though he claims this never came to fruition). George Hotz, the first person to unlock the iPhone, appeared in a bonus in the NAQT packet IS-70.
- Jon Pinyan, 2003
- Harry Altman
- Chris Kennedy
- Damon Wang
- Matt Tobin
- Molly Fitzpatrick
- Val Karpov
- Aaron Cohen, 2008
- Sang Park, 2008
- Watson Ladd, 2009
- Jake Reid, 2009
- Janine Balekdijan, 2009
- Sibjeet Mahapatra, 2009
- Gabriel Johnson, 2010
- Chris Corbo, 2010
- Ian Osborn, 2010
- Dennis London, 2010
A running theme of BCAQB has been its inability to keep a coach. Admittance to its first tournament was based on a student submitting the entry form, posing as the faculty advisor. The coach who took over for the remainder of the 2000-01 year quit the school. All in all, through a decade of existence, the team has had 7 official coaches (including one with two non-consecutive terms), with only Mr. Sayres running the team for longer than one year at a time, plus unofficial assistant/tournament director Mr. Pinyan. Since January 2010, the team has fallen under the jurisdiction of the two Academic Decathlon coaches.
The team also likes to use pseudonyms at tournaments; NAQT's team database likely has more fake names than real ones.