Science Bowl team wins second place at regionals

February 10, 2020 — by Rohan Kumar and Christine Zhang

With one minute left on the clock, there was no chance left at making it to nationals. The score was 98-52, with Harker holding a hefty lead in the finals of the 2020 National Science Bowl Regionals at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). The moderator read, “Which of the following is the name of a celestial body that sustains itself through electron degeneracy pressure…”

In a last-ditch effort, junior Enoch Luk interrupted with a buzz and correctly answered, “White dwarf,” immediately followed with senior captain Jeffrey Xu guessing the following bonus question correctly before the question was read. But with an incorrect answer on the next question, the match was over. Harker had placed first and made it to nationals with a 102-66 victory.

On Feb. 8, the school’s Science Bowl team, advised by Honors Chemistry teacher Kathy Nakamatsu, attended the regional competition at SLAC. The A team, consisting of Xu, Luk, juniors Rohan Kumar and Akshar Sarvesh and freshman Nilay Mishra, went undefeated in their round robin matches against San Mateo, Prospect 2, Harker 2, Proof 1 and Hillsdale. In the playoffs, they beat teams like Lynbrook and Stanford Online High School, ultimately placing second at the event.

The B team, consisting of junior Samuel Wong, sophomores Jeffrey Hu and Ethan Zuo and freshman Anthony Wang and Adam Xu, had victories over St. Francis, Proof 2 and Lincoln but lost to Homestead 1, Stanford Online 1, and Palo Alto 1 in their round robin games. They placed third in their bracket and did not advance to the playoff round.

Jeffrey Xu said he did not expect the A team to place so well. Last year, the team lost to both Lynbrook and Harker and placed third, but this year was able to place higher by winning against Lynbrook and Stanford Online High School. Despite losing Ethan Ko, Joseph Li and Michael Zhang to graduation and only retaining the two remaining A team members, Kumar and Xu, the team was able to improve their standing.

“I know we ended with a disappointing loss to Harker, but I’m still super proud of our team,” Xu said. “We faced opponents who were supposed to be legendary and not even on our level, but we still went up against them confidently and worked hard to win.”

The team suffered from a loss of momentum in the later matches and was ultimately unable to edge out Harker. In the first match against Harker early in the playoffs, the Falcons lost their 68-18 lead in the first half, ending with a final score of 110-76.

“For some reason, during a bunch of key games, we started off strong in the first half and lost momentum in the second half, which was really confusing because usually teams are supposed to use that as momentum to gain an even bigger lead,” Xu said.

Luk also was pleased by the team’s performance.

“We told ourselves to fear the other teams and we hoped to avoid the monsters in the bracket,” Luk said. “In reality, we were the beasts.”

The B team played in a bracket with several strong teams, including two teams that made it to the top four. Despite facing tough competition, the team managed to place third in their bracket. They lost by a one-question margin to the team that came fourth place in the entire competition, Homestead High School, with a score of 92-88.

Xu said he was proud of both A team for their above-expectations performance and B team for their perseverance in a tough bracket.

“I’m definitely happy with how B team accepted their situation, moved on and made the best of it. For A team, I think we worked hard for our second place position,” Xu said. “If luck had been on our side, there’s no doubt we could’ve won the whole thing.”

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