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ITHACA, N.Y. — On Memorial Day weekend, Ithaca High School’s Brain Team participated in the NAQT HSNCT in Atlanta, Georgia.

On Saturday, they played through the fatigue of a late arrival and at least one member with a very bad cold against teams from China, Florida, California, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Jersey, ending the day with a 6-4 record. This was just enough to move on to the playoff games on Sunday, but put them at a disadvantage: Just one loss would knock them out.

An early retiring to bed clearly did the trick, as Ithaca decisively defeated 125 ranked Langley HS from McLean, Virginia and 15 ranked Richard Montogomery A from Rockville, Maryland. These two wins guaranteed the team from Ithaca would take home a trophy, but the team wasn’t done yet.
They went on to defeat High Technology High School from Livingston, NJ (the first time the team has beaten this 23 ranked frequent foe in an NAQT tournament), Great Neck South from Great Neck, NY (57 ranked), and Dorman High School from Roebuck, South Carolina (14 ranked).
These five consecutive wins took Ithaca from the 6-4 “losers bracket” to the Top 8 quarterfinals in the afternoon matches, a feat accomplished only by a handful of teams in HSNCT history.
After a quick lunch, the team returned to play against Thomas Jefferson Science & Technology High School from Alexandria, Virginia (21 ranked). The two teams were even matched, trading the lead back and forth through the game. At the last question of the match, Ithaca was behind by only 20 points. Ithaca buzzed first and answered, but unfortunately was incorrect, ending their amazing run officially tied for 5th with the other teams who fell in their quarterfinals matches.
I hope you’ll join me in congratulation seniors Andrey Shakhzadyan, Casey Wetherbee, and Daniel Xu, and sophomore Vaynu Kadiyali for their incredible performance. These four will be joined by seniors James Park and Luc Wetherbee and, along with sophomores Isaiah Gutman and Justin Tan on the weekend of June 10th to play in the Partnership for Academic Excellence’s National Scholastic Championship in Chicago, Illinois.
This second national competition may have an even more impressive result, as the subject distribution plays even better to the seniors’ strengths. Stay tuned…!