|Strake Jesuit College Preparatory|
|Coaches||Max Maier (2017-present)|
|National Appearances||HSNCT: 2006, 2016-2022|
NAC: 1988, 1995
Strake Jesuit College Preparatory is a college-preparatory school for boys, grades 9–12 in Houston, Texas. The Quiz Bowl team participated in at least two editions of the NAC (1988, 1995), but the team's first known NAQT tournament was the 2006 HSNCT. For the next decade, the team stayed more or less active at the state level, then rejoined the national stage in 2016. Students from both private and public schools around the Houston area, including Annunciation Orthodox and St. Clare of Assisi, matriculate at Strake every fall.
Early years: Founding-2015
The earliest quizbowl tournaments that Strake Jesuit was mentioned as competing in (ie: listed in field) were the 1988 NAC and the 1995 NAC. However, the first detailed stats of a Strake team came at the 2006 HSNCT, where the six-man team, led by Adam Perkins, went 5-5 and finished 71st out of 128 teams.
For the next several years, Strake participated in only TQBA tournaments, with unremarkable results. The low point of the era was the 2008 TQBA State Championship, where Strake finished 12th in a 12-team field, losing every game of the round robin to finish 0-11. Strake teams continued to earn decent places in JV divisions and perform with mediocrity in varsity tournaments.
In the 2012-2013 season, Strake earned its first-ever qualification for NAQT HSNCT with a 5th-place finish out of 27 teams at the TQBA Bayou City Invitational. However, they did not attend that season's HSNCT. In fact, after Bayou City, Strake played one more tournament (13th of 20 at the 2012 TQBA Houston Holiday Hoedown) and then did not participate in another recorded tournament until October 2015, a three-year hiatus.
But when it returned to TQBA, Strake, now coached by Chris Romero, who had joined the faculty as a math teacher, went on a tournament-playing frenzy, participating in no less than 10 tourneys during the 2015-2016 season, including a Louisiana tournament. In contrast, it had taken Strake 8 years to play its previous 10 tournaments.
Rise to Prominence: 2015-2017
On March 5th, 2016, at the TQBA Bluebonnet Bowl, Strake Jesuit, represented by three freshmen and a senior, finished 3rd out of 27 teams and qualified for HSNCT. It was their first qualification since 2012. This time, however, Strake indeed registered for the tournament. After a 3rd of 10 finish at TQBA State, the team of 4 freshmen and a junior went to the 2016 HSNCT, compiling a 5-5 record to just miss the playoffs. They finished 139th out of 272 teams, a result that mirrored the original team's finish ten years prior.
In 2017, the team, boasting the three now-sophomores of the HSNCT team (John Luke Broussard, Sean Doyle, and Josh Hew) as well as a new freshman (Robert Condron) finished 2nd of 16 at the TQBA Hornet Hullabaloo, 3rd of 26 at TQBA Kickoff, and 3rd of 19 at TQBA Alamo City. Coach Romero had left the school after one year but continued to coach the team on his own time. The extraordinarily young team had 9 HSNCT-qualifying finishes, including its first-ever tournament win (9-0 at the 2017 ESA Cade Cane Classic). Then, at the 2017 HSNCT, Strake, which was able to send two teams, saw its A-team, all sophomores or freshmen, go 7-3 in the prelims and finish 25th of 304, by far the best-ever HSNCT showing in program history.
The 2018 team continued the trend of upwards growth for the program. A team of Josh Hew, Sean Doyle, and John Luke Broussard won their opening tournament, Louisiana's Xavier French Quarter Kickoff. After finishing 3rd again at TQBA Kickoff, one of the greatest individual achievements in program history took place: junior Josh Hew represented the A-team by himself at LSU's SpoOoOoktacular II and proceeded to win the tournament with a 64/93/11 statline on IS-167, beating his usual teammates along the way.
2nd and 3rd-place TQBA finishes followed, but Strake still lacked a single in-state tournament win after 12 years of play. That changed on February 14, 2018, when sophomore Michael Artlip, freshman Isean Bhalla, Broussard, and Hew won the TQBA Bluebonnet Bowl. Going 10-1, their only loss was to LASA, and they triumphed over William Golden's Taylor twice. With a TQBA win, Strake was established as a Texas powerhouse. At TQBA State, they finished 3rd of 17, beating both LASA (eventual 3rd-place finishers at HSNCT) and St. John's (TX). The A-team seemed destined for a top-20 finish at the 2018 HSNCT, but, in a controversial decision, the top 4 players were split up into two teams, which had little effect but to weaken both of them. The so-called "A-team" struggled to a 77th-place finish after losing to Glasgow (KY) in the first playoff round, while the "B-team" went 9-5 and finished 32nd. At that year's PACE, the two teams finished 24th and 44th, respectively.
2019's team was again regarded as the highest-potential group in Strake's history. After finishing 2nd at TQBA Kickoff, 3rd at TQBA Turkey Bash, 2nd at HoHoHo, and 3rd at TQBA Winter Rodeo, TQBA Bluebonnet Bowl, the scene of the program's first win the year before, came around. The tournament was being held 3 hours away at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, so coach Max Maier rented a van, picked up the members of the A and B-teams at 4 am, and drove to the tournament. En route, the van got stuck on a muddy roadside along the way, forcing the team to push it back out of the muck. After arriving a few minutes late, the A-team turned in a dominant performance on IS-183, going 9-2 and winning the tournament. They scored 760 points in a single game (tied for 14th-most in NAQT's database for IS-and-above questions), then defeated LASA with an 11/1/0 statline in the final.
After finishing 4th at state (a TQBA varsity championship still eludes the program), the 2019 HSNCT came around. Unfortunately, Strake Jesuit's graduation ceremony coincided with HSNCT Saturday, and a difficult choice was made: John Luke Broussard, as well as Josh Hew, a key cog and probably the 2nd-greatest player in program history, chose to attend graduation instead of going to their final HSNCT. The other senior, Sean Doyle, and a team of Artlip, Condron, Bhalla, and Pablo Lloyd finished 19th out of 336, yet again the program's best HSNCT finish and yet again, not at full strength. The three seniors and Condron started 10-0 at the 2019 PACE NSC before dropping their final 8 games to finish 16th. And with a 360-430 loss to Wayzata A, Hew, Doyle, and Broussard ended their Strake Jesuit quizbowl careers. They had come together four years earlier, as freshmen, and taken an irrelevant program without a single tournament win that was coming off 3 years of hiatus, and turned it into a powerhouse with annual high finishes at nationals and a place as one of Texas' finest programs.