Handicapping the Indpendence Day Spectacular

Due to some technical difficulties, the full website is temporarily down because I (Brant) was trying to change a couple of things around and did not finish before bedtime. But check out the first of two preview articles I have about the Independence Day Spectacular. The Message Board is available here.

The Champions–Abigail and Annabelle Carbonell
They haven’t been beaten yet, and they are really good. This is the first time Abby has not quizzed all year before the event, so will she be rusty or more motivated? Last year when Annabelle was in the same situation, she did her best ever. But since the field was catching them, that turned out to be necessary.

The Challengers–Jesse and Heather Startup
They have gotten closer each year, but since their wedding is two days later, the tournament likely will be taking a back seat to the preparations for the big day. I think it’s neat though that they would take time out of a very busy time to participate in a quiz though.

The Team that is Recasting–Alex D’Amico and Israel Henriquez
Arguably, the only time the Carbonells were not the best team was the last time Israel put together a team. Alex after a year when he filled the message board with excuses, because of me (his teammate) staying up all night, has, to my chagrin, found an upgrade. Will it pay off?

The family that is awesome–The Tyrrells
Last year, I came away amazed at how solid all four teams from this family were. I honestly don’t remember which set of siblings was best or who dominated whom, but I do know that all four of their teams finished in the top 8 early and they had two teams finish in the top 4. Over half of the awards went to this family. Which sibings will pair up this year? I don’t know. I do know that they will have at least three really good teams.

The Travellers–Many
While Matt West keeps talking about how great this tournament is, this tournament still doesn’t get the dap it deserves. I honestly didn’t believe him until last year. When I went, it totally changed my perspective. The rules that seemed weird at first are things I am trying to incorporate into “normal” quizzing. Every year teams say they want to come, but there hasn’t been a true “out of state” team yet. This year, the Keenans are probably going to have at least one team. Capitol City may have a team or two. The Wells cannot come, but I submit that if they could, this could be the only tournament where 6, 7, or 8 teams have a legit shot at winning. Because of the small teams and the opening of the age bracket, good teams are plentiful. Will any of these outsiders contend? They might, but it is a whole different ballgame at this tournament. But with as many quizzes as you get, hopefully they will have time to adjust before the finals.

The Where in the World team–David Poston and Grace D’Amico
I have no idea how this became a team. I guess since I was going to quiz with Alex, Dave thought he would one up me and get what he perceived to be the better D’Amico. Grace was awesome two years ago quizzing with Paige Warren, and we’ll see how well she is able to carry Poston.

The Vengeance is Mine team–Lynn and Paige Warren
Two years ago, Lynn bailed on Paige to quizmaster with the promise that she would return the following year. Paige quizzed with Grace D’Amico (mentioned above) and they were the top team in the morning as Paige won the Andy Gropp Quizzer of the Day Award. Lynn did return, but Paige decided to pay Lynn back by having a over 100 degree fever. Lynn quizzed so well, that she led someone who was only there to fill the seat (sorry, Mrs. D’Amico) to an 8th place finish. Assuming that they actually do quiz together this year, and each does as well as they have in the past, they could be dynamite. Of course, the possibility that neither actually quiz seems very real to me also.

The brother/sister act–Deven and Kelsey Davies
I have heard this will be the team. I think of Kelsey as having the most individual potential, so if Deven is decent, they could win. And I seriously mean it. But then again, it was this event last year that was the worst event at which I have seen Kelsey quiz, so maybe summer quizzing isn’t their thing.

The others
In the past, quizzers such as Cassy Fleming and Matt West have been highest quizzers at this event. If either of them find a good teammate and work, they could do well. Matt assures me that his one year slack job after two years of greatness was an aberration, and not a case of getting older. But who could those teammates be? Obviously, if they quizzed together, they could do well, but I am not sure the rules permit it. Praiselynn Santos was maybe the best quizzer this year, and she is without a teammate yet, I believe. David Douglas has competed at this event in the past. Joshua Austin, Sam Green, Melissa Phillips, Lewis Albright, Anita Alto, John Webster, Luke Brigham, Paul West, Jesse O’Dell, Christian Minor, Elisabeth Thomas, Mark Jones, and Kelly West have all been impressive in the past. Now, if any of them will quiz this year, I do not know. I’d say most likely many of these people will not quiz, but several will come of which I am unaware and have nice days.

But I named 6 teams directly, am assuming at least three Tyrrell teams, and a team from Old Paths and Capitol City. That means there are 11 of the spots in “The Top Twelve” filled. If I get to form a team to try to be that final team, I would try to persuade Matt West and Praise Santos to quiz together. Matt was actually phenomenal last year for not knowing a single verse before the tournament started, and he already knows at least one verse this year. Praise impressed me as much as any quizzer this year (and there were many impressive quizzers). I think that team could crack the top 12. Now, as for which of these teams will move on to the top 5 and eventually win? Well, I will wait until tomorrow to answer that one.:)

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