Science Bowl team places third at regionals but won’t advance

March 6, 2019 — by Jeffrey Xu

Not even a lucky guess could salvage a key match against Harker last month for the school’s top Science Bowl team.

As the moderator began reading a question at the Department of Energy (DOE) Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) regionals competition semifinals match on Feb. 9, A team member Michael Zhang noticed that time was running out. After hearing it was a multiple choice question in Earth and Space Science, Zhang immediately buzzed in, guessing the answer choice X without even hearing the question.

He was correct. However, it was too late. The Saratoga A team still lost to Harker by 30 points; the Saratoga A team took third place.

The Harker A team placed second, and the Lynbrook A team placed first. Since only the winner of the regional competition was able to qualify for the national competition, the team’s Science Bowl season has since ended.

The A team consisted of sophomore Rohan Kumar, junior Jeffrey Xu and seniors Ethan Ko, Joseph Li and Michael Zhang.

The B team, which consisted of freshman Jeffrey Hu and sophomores Enoch Luk, Akshar Sarvesh, Oliver Ye and Christine Zhang, did not make it past the round robin stage to elimination round.

Despite the disappointing loss, Kumar feels that it was still an impressive feat for the school, which had placed fifth last year.

“I think we could have done better, but I am still pretty impressed by our performance,” Kumar said. “I think we could have at least got second place given that we beat Harker once.”

The A team, which went undefeated with a 6-0 record during round robin in the morning, was able to go into elimination round in the upper bracket, allowing the team to take a loss and still stay in the competition. While it won five of the morning games, one match was won due to an automatic forfeit. (As it turned out, the Hillsdale team was trapped in the elevator during the time of the match.)

The first elimination game the A team played was against Harker A, which was a surprising win by over 100 points, especially since the Harker A team had won the competition in 2018.

The second elimination game played by the A team was against Lynbrook A, which ended in a defeat for the Falcons.

The third and final elimination game, a rematch against Harker A, ended in a disappointing loss, putting the Saratoga A team out of the tournament.

Kumar attributes the loss to a lack of speed in buzzing in for toss up questions as well as a low conversion rate on bonus questions.

“For a lot of the tossups we lost against Lynbrook, we knew the answer to, but we simply could not outbuzz them,” Kumar said. “And even when we got tossups, our bonus conversion was not great. Our bonus conversion especially suffered in later rounds, so it would be great if we could have more coverage and better bonus conversion.”

Li believes that in order for the team to recoup the heavy losses due to graduation, next year the team members need to study more into their respective subjects and improve on both depth and breadth of knowledge.

“Studying breadth will allow players to buzz in fast on easy questions, while studying for depth will let the team convert bonuses, especially in the more difficult rounds,” Li said.

While improving contest strategy will be important to winning more rounds, Kumar said the key to victory lies in the dedication of the members and their willingness to study science at home.

“I think we need to have a study schedule and start specializing now, so that over the summer potential team members can start reading up on the topics that we were weak on this year,” Kumar said.