By Joseph Pratt
March 9, 2014
The South Central Ohio Regional Science Bowl, sponsored by the Department of Energy and Fluor B&W Portsmouth, went underway all day Friday, with the Notre Dame Titans cleaning out the competition. More than 130 students gathered and spread out between 27 teams from 16 different high schools in the southern Ohio region, in the end, only the 5 Titans remained.
What may seem to be like the underdog story in every movie, with every cliché intact, the Titans were not considered to be the possible victors as the matches began early Friday morning. The day started off with random pool drawings and matches to determine the point tallies of each team. They would then place teams in orders of their tally and competition level. Notre Dame lost every match and was placed in 24th. As the matches began, the team pushed forward and beat every opponent, including 1st team Portsmouth High School. Portsmouth made it clear to the final round, but lost to Notre Dame before the semi-finals.
What makes the story even more surprising and exciting, was the final round of the evening, where the Titans were neck-to-neck with Chillicothe High School for not one tiebreaker challenge, but two.
South Central Ohio Regional Science Bowl Coordinator, Greg Simonton stated that the final rounds between the two teams were nail biting and just as exciting as any football game could be.
“I think they’ll be great representatives of the region and on behalf of the local DOE (Department of Energy) site, we can’t be any more proud of all of the kids, but especially with how Notre Dame came back at the end. I think their comeback will serve them well when they get to nationals, because they know how to adjust,” Simonton said.
With the very last second on the clock, Notre Dame Science Bowl Captain, Will Haney, hit his buzzer and not only answered the question, earning them 4 points, but got the bonus question through what he called process of elimination, which is what he says he learned from his previous year’s experience in the Science Bowl.
“Those elimination rounds were something else. It was just nothing but calculations in your head about how many opportunities you have left and how many points each team has,” he said.
Haney was very fair when giving the entire team credit for the win, pointing out that the backup player, Jessika Schmidt, didn’t even play during the final rounds, although he considers her the smartest of the group and the “rose among the thorns.” He also went on to point out the traits of each and every teammate and how they couldn’t have won, if they didn’t work as one.
The team is composed of three seniors and two juniors, Will Haney, Scott Warren, Jessika Schmidt, Collin Haskins and Bobby Morriss.
“We are very excited. I don’t think any of us have actually been to D.C., we enjoy being around each other. It will just be a really good experience to end senior year on,” Haney said.
The coach for Notre Dame Science Bowl is Matt Mader, who has taught at Notre Dame for five years, where he instructs physics, chemistry and junior high science. He described the practice schedule as tough, because of the weather and missed school days, but said they’ve been working for this for months.
“To come through the bracket as the 24th seed, they did a really nice job,” Mader said. “This is our second year being down here and some of the players have returned and really stepped up and did a nice job.”
Notre Dame High School will be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Office of Science National Science Bowl in late April. The winner of the national competition will win prizes for the team members and their school.
This is only the second year that the Science Bowl has been hosted locally and Simonton said he is very pleased with it.
Simonton said that the winning team will want for nothing on their trip, because everything is paid and everything is first class. The students also get special treatment and tours when they are visiting the country’s capital.
“They are our leaders of tomorrow. There is nothing more important that we do or could ever do than help kids accomplish all they can, because they are the ones who will, one day, be taking over,” Simonton said. “Investments in kids are the ones that pay off on both ends.”
Joseph Pratt can be contacted at the Portsmouth Daily Times at 740-353-3101, EXT 287 or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.