|Belmont High School|
|National Appearances||HSNCT: 2018, 2019, 2021 |
Belmont High School is a public high school in Belmont, Massachusetts. A few years after the quiet formation of its quizbowl team in 2013, Belmont attended HSNCT for the first time in 2018. Since then, Belmont has become a fixture in the high school quizbowl scene, with a noteworthy fifth-place finish at the 2021 NSC.
Early years (2013-2017)
Belmont's quizbowl team was founded by Rahul Ramakrishnan in 2013. Like much of the Massachusetts high school quizbowl circuit, Belmont played casually and did not attend any nationals or garner impressive tournament showings.
Growth, first nationals appearances (2017-2020)
In 2017, senior Wonyoung Jang joined quizbowl for his first and only season in high school quizbowl. Jang then began building Belmont's program towards more ambitious heights, being appointed co-captain with senior Eva Hill, recruiting large amounts of new members, and encouraging more serious practicing and studying habits. In its first foray into competing at a national championship, Belmont attended the 2018 HSNCT. The team, consisting of Jang, Hill, and juniors Cameron Anderson and Eliana Roberts, made playoffs and placed 77th; they were eliminated in a close overtime loss to Carnegie Vanguard. Anderson notably put up 56.81 PPG on a 25/44/17 line; the rest of the team combined for 12/47/12.
In 2018, after Jang and Hill graduated, new co-captains Anderson and Roberts promoted sophomores Nathan Sheffield and Seiyoung Jang to Belmont A. The team continued building on its progress from the previous year, notching its first-ever tournament win at the second Plymouth Academic Quiz Tournament and consistently placing impressively at many tournaments throughout the year. At the 2019 HSNCT, the team slightly improved upon its run the previous year, finishing 49th; they were eliminated in a blowout loss to Canyon Crest. Anderson again carried the bulk of the scoring load, finishing with 52.31 PPG on a 28/43/23 line.
After the graduation of Anderson, the team's perennial top scorer, and Roberts, Belmont looked to be entering a significant rebuild, with role players Sheffield and Jang being the only members left of the previous squad. However, in a shocking turn of events, Sheffield and Jang began to blossom into a formidable duo, with Sheffield becoming a powerful literature and science-based generalist and Jang becoming a lethal history and arts specialist. At the first major tournament of the year, 2019 MIT Fall, the two combined for 77/49/21; at Harvard Fall XIV, they combined for 60/64/25 en route to a third-place finish. The team also added sophomore role player Kiril Kueppenbender and freshman Cindy Gao, the latter of whom broke out mid-season with an impressive 20/18/1 line at BHSAT XXIX. Belmont would go on to win their last two in-person tournaments of the year, MIT Spring and LVMIT; at the former, the "big three" of Sheffield, Jang, and Gao combined for 99/48/24, and at the latter, Sheffield cleared the field while virtually soloing and ended with an individual line of 74/40/20. Belmont continued to progress through the COVID-19 pandemic, placing 8th in the nationally-competitive BLAST online tournament and 40th on the postseason Groger Rankings.
Prominence as a top team, first deep nationals run (2020-present)
In Sheffield's and Jang's senior season, Belmont picked up where it left off, winning Ridgewood's ACF Fall high school mirror, Maroon Bowl II, BHSAT XXX, QuBIT VII, and MIT Spring. At CORGI, despite placing third, Belmont's "big three" combined for a club-record 113/29/22 line. At Harvard's college mirror of WORKSHOP 2021, Belmont finished third in a field otherwise comprised of college teams. By the time nationals season rolled around, Belmont had finished 13th on the pre-nationals Groger Rankings and was voted 8th on the Groger Ranks pre-nationals poll. Despite these positive trends, Belmont's year was marred by relatively poor performances on NAQT sets; the team failed to qualify for nationals until late March, on the back of a fourth-place finish at Trojan Wars II by a solo Sheffield.
All of the trends, negative and positive, of Belmont's team and season would come to a head during a nationals season in which the team was competing at HSNCT for the third time and making its debut at PACE NSC. Despite their statistically strong performance (327.5 PPG and 6 powers per game), Belmont suffered catastrophic disappointment at the 2021 HSNCT, where they finished 4-4, placed 84th, and missed the playoffs for the first time in club history. The following week, however, at the 2021 NSC, Belmont followed up their tragic loss with their best nationals performance in history, making the superplayoffs after decisive playoff wins against 5th-place HSNCT team Greenhill and back-to-back HSNCT finalists University Lab. Additionally, in the preliminary rounds, Belmont lost to Hunter in a tightly contested shootout with a final score of 430-400. This match was one of the highest scoring games in NSC history as well as the first game in NSC history in which each team recorded eight powers. Jang, along with Justin Chen of TJHSST, also broke the PACE NSC record for individual power percentage in the preliminary rounds, going 18/4 for a power percentage of 81.8%.
In the superplayoffs, Belmont would go on to lose two close, one-tossup games to Beavercreek and Richard Montgomery, but a blowout win against St. Mark's and a close win against Lambert kept their championship hopes alive by locking them into a three-way tie for the final four. After winning the first tiebreaker match against Lambert, Belmont suffered a heartbreaking loss to Richard Montgomery by 10 points after being ahead by 40 points headed into the final tossup. Belmont then faced Stevenson in the team's final match together –– both Sheffield and Jang were graduating, and Kueppenbender was leaving quizbowl –– to play for 5th place. Despite Belmont being down by 100 points at halftime, Sheffield led a heroic comeback, taking over the game after a quiet first half and notching five powers in the second half. Going into the last tossup, Belmont trailed by 30 points, but a clutch game-winning music power by Jang helped complete the comeback and sealed Belmont's 5th overall placement at the championship. Belmont ended the year with the dubious honor of having one of the biggest differences –– if not the biggest difference –– between HSNCT and NSC placement in history, with the team missing the playoffs at the former but placing in the top 5 at the latter.