Hinsdale Central

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Hinsdale Central High School
Hinsdale, Illinois
Coaches Alan McCloud, Tony Scarps
State championships 1992 IHSA
Masonic: 2016 Class 3A
2016 IHSA
National championships None
Nationals appearances 2014 HSNCT T-34th, 2015 HSNCT T-8th, 2015 NSC 25th, 2016 HSNCT T-8th, 2016 NSC 4th
Program status Active

Hinsdale Central High School is a public high school in Illinois. It competes in the West Suburban Conference and Class AA, the large school division, of the IHSA's State Championship Series.

2015-16 A Team


Early Years

The team was coached by Donna Watkins throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s. Under her, the team won the 1992 IHSA State Championship Tournament and finished 2nd in 1998 and 2002, racking up a succession of conference, regional, and sectional titles in the process. Upon her retirement, Alisha McCloud and then Eric Jensen coached in succession, followed by Alan McCloud taking over as the new (and current) head coach.

The team usually found itself near the top of the conference, and advanced to IHSA State numerous times thanks to an easy Sectional (which it is not in anymore), though it was never really competitive or important in the Illinois quiz bowl scene.


Starting with the 2013-2014 school year, Hinsdale Central's team was composed entirely of sophomores and freshmen, due the the graduation of its entire A team from the previous season and the loss of everyone else. That year's freshman recruiting class was also weak, as only 5 freshmen were left by the end of the season; surprisingly, the team gained just as many new sophomores as freshmen, making the class of 2016 arguably the most successful recruiting class in Hinsdale Central's history. The sophomores proved to be highly motivated, surpassing the previous team in several regards and bringing the program to new heights.

Its A team included the core of captains Sunny Chen and James Zhou, as well as a mix of Ankush Bajaj, BJ Ryan, Hugo Zoells, and Harrison Wang. As the season went on, the team made great strides, placing well at tournaments, many of which were attended unaffiliated, becoming, next to perhaps Barrington, the definitive best frosh-soph team in the state. After HFT in December, it made its HSQBRank debut at #69, of which some members were very proud. The team often struggled with negging, as it almost always found itself leading the field in negs at tournaments; James's personal record was 26 in a tournament, though he often got 22+, and Sunny's record was 17 negs. As expected, the team maintained recent dominance within the West Suburban Conference, going undefeated for 15 games. The team won the semifinal and final matches even with top scorer Sunny Chen absent. The team did not attend any State Championships, failing to qualify for IHSA and Masonics, and opting to not attend the NAQT Illinois State Championship.

2014 HSNCT-With its entirely-sophomore team, Hinsdale Central entered its first national tournament with moderate expectations. After some deliberation, the A team roster of James Zhou, Sunny Chen, Ankush Bajaj, and BJ Ryan was employed, since BJ's strengths in geography and politics was well-suited for the NAQT distribution. It started out the morning 4-1 with card number 19, and had a 90-point loss to Dorman A that came down to the last few tossups after being down by 5 at the half. Following lunch, the team finally crossed the 300 and 400-point barrier against Glasgow, before a close 70-point loss to Richard Montgomery in which Sunny racked up 5 powers. With a dominant win against Hickman in Round 12, the team clinched its playoff spot at 6-2. The members were confident that they could finish the prelims 7-3, since they had maintained the number 19 card for the entire day and its next two opponents were slated to be numbers 28 and 10. However, Ransom Everglades A, after being down for the entire match, got to within 10 points with 3 seconds on the timer before getting the final tossup and bonus. In its final match Village A, Hinsdale was up by 160 at the half, but due to passive buzzing on its part as well as clutch plays on Village's part, Hinsdale failed to answer any tossups in the second half and lost by a wide margin. Thus, the team entered the playoffs 6-4 in the losers' bracket. There, they defeated fellow Illinois school Fremd in Round 17 as well as Winchester Thurston A before losing to Harmony Science Academy by 10 points, ending their playoff run 8-5 and finishing in t-34th place. Though its primary goal leading up to the tournament was to reduce negging, Sunny ended up with 23 negs, and the team finished with the second most negs per game out of the playoff teams.


Over the summer, Hinsdale Central's team members decided to study more, with the B team aiming to be relevant in Illinois, and the A team aiming to be relevant nationally. In 2014-15, it was usually unable to bring a full A or B team to tournaments, resulting in mostly mediocre finishes in competitive divisions. Perhaps the most notable development of this season was the rise of Ankush Bajaj as the dominant generalist and literature player that the team had always lacked.

The second time in the entire season that a full Hinsdale Central A attended a tournament was at the 2014 New Trier Varsity, where the team competed in an extremely difficult Uber-Competitive Division with 14 of the top teams from Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Texas. The team defeated Northmont en route to a 4th place finish behind only Auburn, DCC, and Northmont.

The third tournament attended by a full A team was the 2015 NAQT Illinois State Championship, the first state championship attended by any of its players. After going 10-1 and defeating all of the top Illinois teams except IMSA A, Hinsdale was in a three-way tie for first with IMSA A and Auburn A; it defeated IMSA but then lost to Auburn to finish in 2nd place. In March, Hinsdale Central B made its very first appearance in the Morlan HSQBRank at #196.

Hinsdale Central ended its season with a T-8 finish at the 2015 HSNCT and a personally disappointing 25th place at the 2015 PACE NSC. During the latter event, Ankush set a new record for negging with an estimated 30 negs.


Hinsdale Central finished 2nd at NAQT State, 1st at Masonics State, and 1st at IHSA State. Despite this success at the state level, Hinsdale Central A was unable to acquit itself nationally. After an optimistic performance in the prelims, HC A was knocked out by consecutive losses to LASA and TJ and finished in 8th place at HSNCT for the second year in a row. Hinsdale Central A finished fourth at the 2016 NSC.


All members of the 2015-16 A team were lost to graduation. It remains to be seen whether Hinsdale Central can remain prominent at the state level.

Individual Awards

IHSSBCA All-Sectional

  • James Zhou (2014, 2015)
  • Ankush Bajaj (2015, 2016)
  • Harrison Wang (2016)


  • Ankush Bajaj, First Team (2016)
  • Sunny Chen, Second Team (2014), First Team (2015, 2016)
  • James Zhou, First Team (2015)
  • Harrison Wang, Second Team (2016)

IHSA State Championship

Class AA (1992-present)
Class A (1992-present)