A Successful Experiment: Science Olympiad Team Finishes Fifth at First Invitational of the Year

By Nicholas Sathi ’20

Chaminade’s two Science Olympiad teams started their seasons on Saturday, January 6 at Columbia High School’s fourth annual Science Olympiad Invitational. Despite the tournament being the first of the season for both teams, the trip to East Greenbush, New York proved to be a success, especially for the varsity A Team, which placed fifth overall. Considering that some of the competitors at Columbia regularly compete on the statewide level, including Spackenkill and the Flyers’ local rival Kellenberg Memorial, to place in the top five was a strong start to a new year.

This year’s varsity Team A has hit the ground running in the chase for continued success at the state level.

While the Flyers were originally supposed to compete at the Islip High School Invitational in early December, the trip was postponed due to inclement weather. The students and coaches faced similar fears once again, as Chaminade was closed the day before the Columbia tournament due to heavy snow; however, the teams fortunately received permission to travel. When they arrived at their hotel in East Greenbush, the students made last-minute preparations for their competition the next day.

In the frigid, early morning hours, the students arrived at Columbia to start the day of competition. They would be competing against more than 30 other teams from across the Northeast. Before the start of the events, head coach Bro. Benjamin Knapp, S.M. ’93 motivated his two teams with a short but meaningful speech, reminding them to perform at the best of their abilities and, of course, to enjoy the experience.

Primarily composed of underclassmen, Team B is looking to grow in experience and camaraderie this competition season.

Many students from both Teams A and B placed in the top six, winning medals in their events. Dylan Richardson ’19, who has assumed much of the building responsibilities this year, took home four medals on the day. He expressed his satisfaction, saying, “Since I’ve taken on several new events this season, I did not exactly expect to win the medals that I won at Columbia. But, by winning them, I have more hope for the rest of the season—for not only myself, but also for the rest of the team.”

The tournament was an important step in building a team camaraderie that will help both squads achieve the success they desire this season. Josef Moses ’19 looked back on his debut for the A team, which included a second-place medal in Remote Sensing. “I think we all work very well together, and we all certainly all have fun, too,” he explained.

Ken Pham ’18 (l.) and Dylan Richardson ’19 (r.) pose after winning an award for Mission Possible, a challenging building event that has made its return after a few years.

Students and coaches felt that Columbia was a good start to the season; however, much work still needs to be done to improve.

“I think Team A performed pretty well for the first competitions of the season,” said Bro. Ben. “There were many bright spots, but there are definitely areas where we can improve. ”

Senior Peter Camporeale, a staple for the A squad, echoed his coach’s sentiments, saying, “There’s always room for improvement, and these first competitions should galvanize us for the future.”          

The results from previous years are hard to match, especially those of the golden season two years ago, when Team A finished a record-breaking eighth place out of over 400 teams in New York. Bro. Ben looks forward to facing this challenge, however, explaining his goal for the season as, “Top 3 at Regionals and top 10 at States. That’s a tall order, but the team is certainly capable.”

Junior Ryan Schmidt and co-captain Vincent Povinelli ’18 smile after their second-place finish in Forensics.

This past Saturday, some competitors traveled to the Battle of Valley Forge Invitational at Conestoga High School in Berwyn, PA. While nearly half of the roster couldn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts, a few older members were able to shine: Camporeale, Nicholas Richardson ’18, Nicholas Plante ’18, and Ryan Schmidt ’19 all placed in the top 5 in their respective events. Meanwhile, a number of new faces got their feet wet in a competition setting for the first time.

The team still has the Yale Invitational on its schedule before the Nassau West Regional Tournament in early February, where they hope to qualify for the New York State Tournament (March 9-11). In between, they will have two more opportunities for invitational practice at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University over winter break.

It will take much hard work and dedication, but the students on these teams have proven for themselves that they have the ability to succeed and to go even further beyond their previous achievements.