Heritage teams dominate science bowl competition

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After the last round, in which the two five-person Heritage teams went head-to-head, the competitors took pictures on the UM campus. (Photo submitted by Aaron Thaler)

Two Heritage teams took home first and second place at the regional Science Bowl competition. This Saturday, 10 Heritage students competed against 34 other teams at the University of Miami and secured a team spot at the national competition held in Chevy Chase, Md., at the National 4-H Conference Center.

After preliminary rounds, the two Heritage teams advanced to the playoffs. “We had a little while before our first match of the playoffs started, so we had a lot of fun throwing a frisbee on the quad at UM, relieving a bit of stess of the competition,” said senior Aaron Thaler, who was captain of the Heritage B team that won second place.

In the second playoff round, Thaler cinched the win with a biology question at the last minute, ultimately advancing to the final round against the A team. “The only game lost by any Heritage team was to another Heritage team,” Thaler said, referring to A team’s undefeated record and B team’s two losses to the A team.

Heritage B team, consisting of seniors Paul Teng, Matthew Robbins, Aaron Thaler and Abhitya Krishnaraj, and junior Kevelya Koppa, hold their trophy together. (Photo submitted by Aaron Thaler)

The A team, consisting of seniors Andrew Ma, Shayaan Subzwari and Saaketh Vedantam, junior Sean Teng and sophomore Mateo Llerena, did not lose a single round during the tournament. Vedantam has been on the team that won South Florida Regionals four years in a row and has been captain of the A team for two years. The B team consisted of junior Kevelya Koppa and seniors Abhitya Krishnaraj, Matthew Robbins, Aaron Thaler and Paul Teng. 

“By studying science outside of what is taught in the classroom, our team members and I have managed to specialize in what subjects interest us the most, giving us an advantage in competition as well as helping us decide what we want to pursue in college and beyond,” Subzwari said, whose is well-versed in astronomy, while his teammates collectively master other subjects such as math, energy and biology. However “it isn’t too delineated since we overlap in some of the sections,” he added.

The A team displays their awards from the South Florida Regional Science Bowl competition, which is nationally sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The team was comprised of sophomore Mateo Llerena, seniors Shayaan Subzwari, Saaketh Vedantam and Andrew Ma, and junior Sean Teng. (Photo submitted by Aaron Thaler)

To maintain their streak, the team has a plan looking ahead to the national competition. “We look to continue our weekly practices, which we thank Mr. Rodriguez for hosting,” Subzwari said, “and plan on splitting up additional study materials between the five of us so that we’re best prepared for nationals in April.” 

This year’s regional win marked a Heritage A team’s eighth year winning the South Florida Regional Science Bowl and seventh year without losing a single round.  “It was a really fun, good-spirited day,” Thaler said. “Of course we were competing, but in the end we were all just having fun. We realized there was a reason we do Science Bowl.”

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