2017 Nationals preview

Horton hears a Who-am-I!

Advertisements

After a quick turnaround from Ontario provincials, the Reach for the Top national championship will be decided next weekend. Sixteen teams have been invited from across Canada to compete in Toronto for a title that has passed between schools for more than fifty years. Those teams (sorted by province):

British Columbia

Collingwood School

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Sir Winston Churchill SS

  • Most recent national result: 11th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 5th (2008)

Templeton SS

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Two new teams from BC this year. I thought Templeton may have earned one appearance in the mid-2000s, but I have no records for that period. Meanwhile, Sir Winston Churchill is a very regular qualifier, though they have struggled to get out of the bottom half this decade. I have no information about the BC competition, but at least one team from the province has made top 6 with >100% R-value in almost every year of the past decade. New teams are very much an unknown: will a lack of experience hurt them, or are they a surprise that comes out of nowhere?

Alberta

Old Scona Academic School

  • Most recent national result: 4th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 4th (2014, 2016)

The Renert School

  • Most recent national result: 15th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 15th (2016)

Rundle College

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Old Scona leads the Alberta cohort again with yet another Nationals qualification; they are probably the best modern era program to not win a title (yet). Despite all the appearances, they are often stuck in the 5th-8th range indicative of quarterfinal losses. Renert School gave a close match in the Alberta final, but they would need a big improvement from last year to make some noise in their second appearance. Rundle College is actually the 4th-place Alberta team after the third finisher dropped; I think they will looking for just a few wins as a goal.

Manitoba

St. Paul’s HS

  • Most recent national result: 8th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 3rd (2010)

Kelvin HS

  • Most recent national result: 7th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (1970)

Note: Kelvin’s best result in the modern era is likely their 4th place in 2003. Manitoba is a very active province (for its population) in SchoolReach, and that has fostered good competition as far back as the early CBC years. In recent years, the two Manitoba teams usually make the quarterfinals, and I would not be surprised to see a similar result this year.

Ontario

University of Toronto Schools

  • Most recent national result: 3rd (2015)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2002-03, 2012-13)

Lisgar CI

  • Most recent national result: 3rd (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2008, 2015)

Martingrove CI

  • Most recent national result: 5th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2014)

These three Ontario teams will enter as favourites. Lisgar is fresh off of record R-values at the regional and provincial level, while UTS got through a tough playoff run after an unexpected low seed. Martingrove is a step below, but this is their fifth consecutive Nationals appearance, which is no small feat in the fierce Ontario competition. I think a UTS-Lisgar final is likely, but both teams have had surprise losses in the last 15 months at various levels of competition (the UTS regional loss last year being most noticeable). Watch out for one of these teams to break Kennebecasis Valley’s national R-value record of 145%, set in 2010.

Quebec

Marianopolis College

  • Most recent national result: 9th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 5th (2014)

My previous opinions on CEGEPs in Reach still hold. That being said, I respect that the team is legitimately competing. Unfortunately, CEGEP team compositions are entirely new each year, and without current results from the provincial tournament, I have no way to measure how strong the team is.

New Brunswick

Kennebecasis Valley HS

  • Most recent national result: 1st (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2010-11, 2016)

Saint John HS

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Kennebecasis Valley will defend their national title in their record-continuing twelfth consecutive national appearance. They lost some players to graduation, but their incredible consistency in fostering talented players means that the squad is the best challenger to the Ontario juggernauts this year. I think they should still at least make the semis. Despite often finishing highly in New Brunswick, I think this is Saint John HS’s first national appearance; they just always got locked out by Fredericton in the ’90s and KV in the ’00s before Reach started awarding a second invitation.

Nova Scotia

Auburn Drive HS

  • Most recent national result: 10th (2008)
  • Best national result (on file): 10th (2008)

Horton HS

  • Most recent national result: 10th (2007)
  • Best national result (on file): 3rd (1998)

Nova Scotia is a blast from the past this year! Both teams return after a decade’s absence, with different histories. Auburn Drive had one good year in 2008, then got stuck in the provincial midfield with Cobequid and the other HRM teams dominating. Horton, meanwhile, is reviving their club from a dormancy since 2010; before that, they were the team to beat in the province in the ’90s and early ’00s. Cobequid’s run of national appearances (all but one year since 2009) has ended with a third place in the provincial competition.

And those are the 16 teams. Everyone plays each other in the lengthy Saturday round-robin, which will seed teams for the Sunday/Monday playoffs (nearly every game is played individually, so the playoff process takes time). I foresee the quarterfinals containing the three Ontario teams, KV, Old Scona, and a team each from BC and Manitoba. The final quarterfinal spot is a tossup between Marianopolis or a second team from BC/Manitoba. Lisgar will probably get the highest R-value, but they have a history of faltering in critical playoff games: they have won 8 of their 18 semifinal/3rd place/final matches at the provincial and national levels (UTS has won 30 of 46 and Martingrove 10 of 16, in comparison).

I will be at Nationals. Thanks (and a disclosure) for the Lisgar team providing transportation during my sleeping hours. Despite the registration form, I will not act for Lisgar (or Reach) in any capacity; I will be an independent observer. This also means R-values will be delayed, but I will provide what updates and scores I can through the Twitter hashtag #ReachNats17

Good luck to all the competing teams!

1 thought on “2017 Nationals preview”

  1. I expect Lisgar and UTS to steamroll every team except KV and Martingrove and expect this to compose the top 4, barring any upsets leading to two of these teams facing off before the semifinals. Again, the sentiment that Nationals is easier to win than Provincials holds.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s