Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin
|Coaches||Jason Flowers (2007-present)|
|State Championships||2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016|
|National Championships||2013 HSNCT, 2014 NSC, 2014 HSNCT, 2016 NSC|
|National Appearances||HSNCT: 2007-2016|
NSC: 2010, 2011, 2013-2016
The Liberal Arts and Science Academy of Austin is a magnet high school in Austin, Texas. The Quiz Bowl team was refounded on April 8, 2007 after a long hiatus. Several students from Kealing Middle School matriculate at LASA every fall.
In 1988, LBJ High School was invited to send a quiz bowl team to the TOC on the basis of its strong performance in that year's Knowledge Master Open (an event the school went on to win, for the first and only time, later that same year). Coached by Ed Davis and Jane Terrell, the team returned to the TOC in 1989, 1990 (reaching the quarterfinals before bowing to Irmo), 1994, 1995 (placing 41st), 1996 (placing 40th), and 2000 (placing 45th). The LBJ team also earned 8th place at the 1997 National Academic Championship. During this period, LBJ High School contained an embedded magnet program known as the Science Academy of Austin; in 2002, that program was broadened to become the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), and in 2007 LBJ and LASA were formally reconstituted as separate schools sharing a single campus.
Refounding in 2007
In the spring of 2007, several of the founding members of LASA Quiz Bowl read Brainiac by Ken Jennings, and Albert Bayer and Tyler Smith resolved to look for a quiz bowl tournament to enter. Since the QU tournament hosted by Sam Houston State University had already passed, they decided to enter the 2007 TQBA State tournament instead. Albert and Navonil Ghosh, both students in Coach Jason Flowers’s AP US History class, were discussing their upcoming tournament and their need for a faculty sponsor during class, at which point Flowers, citing his participation in both high school and college quiz bowl in Louisiana, offered to coach the team.
Two weeks later, a LASA team composed of Tyler Smith (captain), Albert Bayer, Navonil Ghosh and Cyrus Bordbar finished in a tie for third place at TQBA State and qualified for both the 2007 NSC and HSNCT. The team chose to attend HSNCT and placed a respectable 106th in only their second tournament. Cyrus was unable to attend HSNCT, and as a result Prashant Raghavendran attended as the fourth member of the team.
LASA kicked off its 2007-2008 campaign by aggressively recruiting freshmen and sophomores. As a result, Shen Gong, Thomas Littrell, Aaron Pellowski, Daniel Chupin and several other underclassmen joined the team. LASA quiz bowl achieved several milestones in 2007-2008, including its first-ever tournament win (at the 2007 ULL Fall Tournament), its first-ever TQBA tournament win (the 2007 HoHoHo), and first-ever TQBA State Championship.
At the 2008 HSNCT, the LASA A team of Tyler Smith, Albert Bayer, Prashant Raghavendran and Cyrus Bordbar finished 7th out of 176 teams, including a notable playoff victory over Dorman A. LASA B, in its first appearance at HSNCT, placed 76th.
With the departure of LASA’s original quiz bowl team members, 2008-2009 was a year devoted to the development of one solid team. Junior Shen Gong took over as captain from Tyler Smith, and sophomore Benji Nguyen joined the team. LASA took part in (and won) its first collegiate event (the 2008 Oklahoma mirror of ACF Fall), as well as competing in several high school events.
At the 2009 HSNCT, a LASA team composed of Shen Gong, Thomas Littrell, Benji Nguyen, Daniel Chupin and Aaron Pellowski finished tied for 11th.
At the beginning of the 2009-2010 season, LASA launched another recruiting drive, which resulted in several new additions to the team, including Roger Cain, Allan Sadun, and Arthur Lee. LASA A placed 1st at Hunter’s Prison Bowl III in February 2010, and won its second TQBA State title.
At the 2010 HSNCT, LASA A defeated Bellarmine in the consolation game to finish 3rd in the tournament. LASA B finished tied for 11th. LASA A also attended the NSC for the first time in 2010, where they finished 3rd after losing to Maggie Walker in a half-packet placement game.
With the departure of Shen Gong, Thomas Littrell became captain of LASA A, and Aaron Pellowski became a full-time member of the A team, along with Daniel Chupin and Benji Nguyen. LASA A was consistently ranked #1 or #2 throughout the season, alternating with State College High School for the top spot. Several new members joined the team in 2010, including Nathan Weiser, Ben Jones, and Arnav Sastry, all of whom had been founding members of the Kealing Middle School team as eighth graders.
LASA sent five teams to the 2011 HSNCT, with the A through D teams all qualifying for the playoffs. At the 2011 HSNCT, LASA became the first school to have five teams in the HSNCT field, and both LASA C and LASA D were the first teams with their letter designation to make the HSNCT playoffs. LASA A finished 2nd at HSNCT after losing both games of an advantaged final to State College, and went on to place 3rd at the 2011 NSC.
On the graduation of the entire top team from the previous year, Roger Cain assumed leadership of LASA A and led the team through a strong season. In 2011, another new crop of players joined the team, including Alex Denko, Forrest Hammel and sophomore Alex Freed.
At the 2012 HSNCT, a LASA A team consisting of juniors Roger Cain, Allan Sadun, and Arthur Lee, and sophomore Nathan Weiser defeated Centennial in the consolation game to finish in 3rd place. LASA B tied for 21st and LASA C for 49th, while LASA D and E both missed the playoffs.
The 2012-2013 season saw the arrival at LASA of two-time MSNCT champion Corin Wagen and his 2012 teammate Ethan Russo, along with several other former Kealing Middle School players. In November 2012, five LASA teams descended upon HFT VII. LASA A and B made it to the tournament finals but they chose not to play a final match, opting to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra instead.
With Roger, Nathan, Allan and Arthur all returning, LASA A beat Ladue in a one-game final to win the 2013 HSNCT. LASA C became the first C team to win over six games in prelims, going 8-2 and finishing tied for 13th, while LASA B finished tied for 33rd, and LASA D once again qualified for the playoffs. At the 2013 NSC, LASA A lost to Ladue in the final match to finish 2nd, while LASA B finished 6th and LASA C tied for 28th.
A LASA A-team of Ben Jones, Alex Freed, Arnav Sastry, and Nathan Weiser united the PACE NSC and the NAQT HSNCT titles for the first time in three years, having previously won several local events and Texas Invitational. Notably, LASA B (same lineup as 2012-13 LASA C) placed 6th at NSC and 3rd at HSNCT, losing to the A-team at the latter in the first leg of a three-team final which also featured St. John's coming in 2nd.
At LASA, the D team has traditionally been composed of upperclassmen (usually seniors) with quiz bowl experience, but who chose to focus on pursuits other than quiz bowl as they reached junior and senior year. The original LASA D team was composed of seniors Ariel Godwin (a former member of the A team), Jay Morgan, Max Wimberley, and Victoria Cui. That team finished 6-4 in the prelims at the 2011 HSNCT, becoming the first D team to qualify for the playoffs.
The 2012 iteration of the D team finished 3-7 at HSNCT, finishing in 206th place. In 2013, led by former A team member Matt Goodman, LASA D again finished 6-4 in the prelims and qualified for the playoffs. LASA senior Tim Loose, playing in his first-ever quiz bowl tournament, powered the final tossup of the final prelim game against John Jay to clinch the playoff spot.
In 2014, LASA D again finished 6-4 in the prelims and qualified for the playoffs, defeating LASA C in round 16 and relegating the LASA underclassmen to a 5-5 finish. The LASA D team of Ying Liu, Advaith Anand, Cameron Darwin, and Michael Zhou proceeded to win their first two playoff games, before falling to in-state rival Seven Lakes in round 19. These two victories secured an 8-5 record for LASA D and a t-34 finish at the 2014 HSNCT.
As of 2014, LASA remains the only school to have a D team in the HSNCT playoffs.
- Tyler Smith
- Albert Bayer
- Cyrus Bordbar
- Navonil Ghosh
- Prashant Raghavendran
- Shen Gong
- Thomas Littrell
- Benji Nguyen
- Daniel Chupin
- Aaron Pellowski
- Allan Sadun
- Roger Cain
- Arthur Lee
- Nathan Weiser
- Ben Jones
- Alex Freed
- Arnav Sastry
- Ying Liu