On November 12, 2016, a crisply cool, sunny day, more than 75 teams from all over the country convened at Yale University for an exciting day of Certamen competition. For the first time, NCP fielded 4 teams, with 2 at the Intermediate A level and 2 at the Advanced level.
Taking an early 5:30am train from New York to New Haven, we all caught some sleep and last-minute crammed to prepare for the big day. After a warm reunion with NCP alumni currently attending Yale and then rubbing the foot of the statue for good luck, we stopped by an incredibly tasty donut shop to recharge.
When we entered the auditorium, overflowing with enthusiastic classics students, the air was abuzz with energy and anticipation. Two members of the Yale Classics Department faculty gave opening remarks, posing ideas about the true significance of Certamen and the classics itself, setting the tone for the rest of the day. Following a discussion of the importance of the etymology of the word “certamen,” the matches began.
The intermediate prelim rounds began first. Despite being matched with some of the best teams in the nation, our two intermediate teams performed consistently strongly all 3 rounds, earning the 2nd and 8th seeds to qualify for the semifinal round. Unfortunately, due to these seedings, both our A team, consisting of Claudia Cisek, Cora Pancoast, Emma Williamson, and Sahithi Gangavarapu, and our B team, consisting of Humayra Munshi, Vasim Patel, and Younes Deiban, had to compete against each other, in addition to BASIS DC, which gave us a chance to send only one team to the final round.
Following the intermediate prelims, the novice and advanced teams competed. We didn’t do very well at the novice level (since we had no novice teams), but at the advanced level, both teams were pitted against fierce competition. A mishap with missing buzzers in one room led to the matchups for the two Northside teams being swapped after the first round, causing a mess that thankfully was only temporary. After these 3 rounds, the veteran advanced team, consisting of seniors Andres Cook, Atif Osmani, Jenny Lam, and Samir Al-Ali emerged as 5th seed for the semifinals. The advanced team consisting of juniors Ian Slaby, Kimberly Lu, Madeline Meade, and Mindren Lu, having been pitted against teams with many more years of experience, unfortunately were squeezed out of the semifinals.
The semifinal rounds were full of excitement. At the advanced level, NCP, playing against St. Stephen’s and BLS C, challenged a question, where Samir Al-Ali challenged a question where he translated the word “perform” with the verb laboro, laborare. Kimberly and Mindren, acting as if in loco parentis due to the lack of a coach, discussed this challenge at length with the proctors and the coaches of the other teams, but the decision was finally made for Samir’s answer to be rejected. After a close match, BLS C emerged to take the bid for the finals.
Despite the challenge at the advanced level which had taken a long time to be resolved, the intermediate semis took even longer. At first, it seemed that BASIS DC had bested our teams to make it to the finals, but upon a challenge and further investigation, it turned out that Younes had given an alternate and correct answer to a myth question, giving his team the two boni. Younes successfully answered both boni, bringing the match to a tie with BASIS DC. After an inconclusive first tiebreaker round, Vasim was able to answer a grammar question correctly to clinch the second tiebreaker and a bid for the finals.
The intermediate finals were no less exciting. Competing against BLS B and Oak Hall in a room packed with spectators, the air was filled with anticipation. All teams exchanged greetings and wished each other good luck, and the round began. BLS B grabbed an early lead which they never relinquished, but NCP, with Humayra, Vasim, and Younes all answering questions correctly, was able to outperform Oak Hall (which consisted of some members of the 2016 national championship team) to take second place. With applause and exchanges of felicitation, this brought a conclusion to this wonderful day of friendly competition.