2005 Thomas Jefferson

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The 2004-05 A-team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, in Alexandria, VA, is widely considered to be the greatest high school team of all time. When playing in tossup/bonus formats with their full lineup, TJ A went undefeated for the entire school year, and is believed to be the only team to do so while playing a significantly competitive schedule (the mid-Atlantic was the most competitive region in high school quizbowl at the time).


The members of TJ '05 used pseudonyms from the movie Top Gun at many tournaments during the year and rotated them across rounds.


Thomas Jefferson won both the NAQT HSNCT and the PACE NSC. Thomas Jefferson's 2005 team remains the only team to go undefeated at both tournaments in a single year, and still holds major scoring records (including points per 20 tossups heard at HSNCT and points per bonus at HSNCT) at the events.

In 2005, TJ's B team also accomplished a unique feat by reaching the semifinals of the NSC.

This team (joined by Ajay Suresh of Princess Anne) also represented Virginia at the 2005 PAC, and won after Maryland negged on the final question. While not credited to the school, it could be argued that the members of this team in fact won a third national title in 2005.

It is unlikely that any team will ever achieve a similar level of dominance again, since the widespread adoption of effective quizbowl study methods, greater availability of practice material, expansion of interest in highly-competitive quizbowl, and adoption of round-robin playoffs at the NSC all make it more likely that even the most dominant team in the country will incur at least a few losses at some point during the year.

Retrospective of 2003-2005 teams

Sam Lederer and Jacob Oppenheim played on the A team for all three years of the run. S.R. Sidarth was on the 2003 team along with Steve Young. Will Sullivan took Sidarth's place after the latter's graduation and was on the 2004 and 2005 teams. Young graduated in 2004 and the final spot was filled by Dan Wright in 2005.

The team's cumulative record at nationals over the three years was 80-5. Their losses were to Maggie Walker (in the 2003 HSNCT prelims and 2004 NSC final), Dunbar (in the 2003 HSNCT prelims and 2003 NSC playoffs), and Dorman (in the 2003 NSC final). The team made the finals of all six nationals in the three-year period. In all three years of nationals, the team never played any game, other than the NSC final four matches, in which they faced elimination from the tournament.

During the last two years of the run, at all regular and national tournaments combined from fall 2003 to spring 2005, the regular A-team lost only one game (the 2004 NSC final) played at pyramidal events. This period included 27 victories and 1 second-place finish at 22 tossup/bonus format tournaments (239-1 game record) and 6 VHSL-format tournaments (24-0 game record) for a total record of 263-1 in 264 games played on pyramidal formats over the two years.

The team also played in several speed-format events during this time, including the televised It's Academic tournament and the invitationals at Blake and Hammond. They did not win the IA events and any records of performance at the untelevised speed IA-style events are now lost. In addition, TJ did not send its regular A-team lineup to the 2004 NAQT state tournament and failed to win that event.

Thomas Jefferson A won 39 consecutive HSNCT games between its prelim loss to Dunbar in 2003 and a prelim loss to Wilmington Charter B in 2006.