Science Bowl team places first at regionals, heads to nationals

March 26, 2023 — by Nikhil Mathihalli and Anthony Wang
Photo by Nilay Mishra
A-team members senior Adam Xu, senior Nilay Mishra, junior Advaith Avadhanam and senior Anthony Wang listen attentively as the round’s questions are being read.
For the first time in school history, the school Science Bowl team qualified for the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C.

For the first time in school history, the Science Bowl team has qualified for the national tournament and will travel to Washington, D.C., from April 27 to May 1 to compete in it.

The school’s Science Bowl A team earned the bid after winning a regional tournament at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) on Feb. 11. In Science Bowl, competitors from two teams try to buzz in as quickly as possible to answer questions about chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics.

The A team, consisting of senior co-captain Nilay Mishra, junior co-captain Advaith Avadhanam, seniors Adam Xu and Anthony Wang and sophomore Skyler Mao, defeated 27 other Bay Area teams including reigning champion Lynbrook High School at the competition at Stanford.

Avadhanam attributed the A team’s success to a combination of teamwork, diligent practice and the supportive coaching of Chemistry Honors teacher Kathy Nakamatsu. 

“Because most of the other teams were coming off COVID-19 years, they weren’t used to the fast pace of in-person tournaments,” Avadhanam said. “To some extent, neither were we. But Ms. Nakamatsu trained our strategy to buzz aggressively and get them by speed.”

Avadhanam also stressed the importance of the team’s camaraderie — he said that teammates were very supportive of each other for both the school’s A team and B team.

 In Washington, D.C., they will compete against the top 50 teams in the nation. 

“It’s really encouraging that Bay Area teams typically do well,” Avadhanam said. “Of course, we will continue practicing, we will continue studying and we will hopefully win.” 

Nakamatsu, who has been coaching Science Bowl here and at a previous school since 1997, will accompany the team. She is confident in the team’s chances.

“I’ve always known that the team was capable of winning [regionals],” Nakamatsu said. “We just needed the right circumstances, the right mix. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we’ve got a pretty good shot [at nationals].”

Nakamatsu also believes that the win will provide a boost to the team’s visibility and prominence in the school, which will help recruit new members. She has noticed that more successful programs garner more attention and thereby more participation — she hopes this win for Science Bowl will have the same effect.

This year’s B-team consisted of juniors Nikhil Mathihalli and Levana Lai as well as freshmen Arjun Krish, Quinn Gifford and Nolan Woo. They placed fourth in their division, ending with a record of 3-3 while losing to Lynbrook, Harker and Gunn.

With its younger members, the B-team struggled with traditional gameplay concepts in their first in-person Science Bowl. The pandemic eliminated the opportunity to play against other teams and have buzzer-races to answer questions. In fact, this was the first time the tournament was held in person since February 2020.

Although next year’s team will suffer the loss of three seniors to graduation, Nakamatsu hopes that the possibility of attracting new potential Science Bowl players along with the talented younger members already on the B-team will bring future success.

“We’ve got good momentum going,” Nakamatsu said. “It would be great if this continues next year.”

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