WHITING | Every weekday, before and after school, you can look inside the classrooms of Mr. Nichols and Mr. Long and see that members of the Science Olympiad team are busy, studying diligently and working hard on their events. Over the past few weeks, they have been preparing for their first competition that took place at Whiting High School on Saturday, December 1.
For the team, it is their first step in their long journey towards the state tournament. For the past two years,
Whiting has placed third at State, only one rank away from advancing to Nationals. This year, however, the team is determined to advance to the next level.
“It’s my senior year, I’ve been doing this for four years,” said senior Mason Markovich, who has been a gold medalist at past state tournaments. “We just have to make a little more of a push that can hopefully get us to Nationals.” In that push, according to Markovich, is extra effort, determination and devotion.
On Saturday, December 1, before 8 a.m., 26 schools from Indiana and Illinois gathered in the WHS and WMS cafeterias to set up their “home bases.” From 8-2 p.m., 23 events were held in various classrooms throughout the high school and middle school and all three gyms (including Nathan Hale’s).
After an intense day of competition, at 3 p.m. participants gathered in the Memorial Gymnasium for the awards ceremony. After a long and tiring day, the team anxiously awaited the results. Whiting’s A-Team earned third place, showing improvement over last year’s fourth place finish, and Whiting’s B-Team earned seventh place.
This year, A-Team received three third place medals, one second place medal and two first place medals.
Third place medals were awarded to seniors Luke Matulewicz and Mary Gundich in the “Thermodynamics” event; Mason Markovich and sophomore Jacob Brooks in “Technical Problem Solving”; and senior Lauren Markovich and Gundich in “Write It/Do It.”
Second place medals were awarded to senior Johnny Blood and Matulewicz for the “Robot Arm” event.
First place medals were awarded to Lauren Markovich and junior Alex Bajzatt in “Forensics”; and sophomore Nolan Michniewicz and junior Jorge Vasquez in the “Rocks and Minerals” event.
B-Team’s sophomore Mark Casanova and freshman Michael Kalavo earned second place medals for the “Gravity Vehicle” event.
With the quality of the competition, both the team and its sponsors were pleased with the outcome.
“The Whiting Invitational was a success. Many of the top schools from Indiana and Illinois competed, which, for most teams, was the first tournament of the year,” said Science Olympiad Co-sponsor Mr. Jeremy Long.
“We did well, with our varsity team placing third, losing only to a couple of national-caliber Illinois teams. We feel good about our chances moving forward, especially with the fact that we did not have our best day as a team,” Mr. Long continued.
For the almost 400 competitors present that day, it was a major wake-up call for the months to follow on that long road to the state tournaments. Many of the schools that participate in the Whiting Invitational give very positive feedback about the caliber of the competition and the way Whiting runs its annual event. Mike Plaskett, a senior from Lake Central High School, had nothing but compliments for the invite.
“I really like how everyone is in the cafeteria,” he said. “It creates a sense of unity between all of these schools being here. I also like how the building is small and easily accessible. Generally, the individuals running the events are very nice, and Whiting’s team is very nice to talk to as well.”
Mr. Dan Nichols, Science Olympiad co-sponsor, also received positive feedback from participants. One Hinsdale Central High School student in particular expressed how impressed he was with the Whiting Invite and how much he will miss it next year since he will be graduating. This feedback from both adults and students alike is a true testament as to the overall caliber of the invitational.
Although it is a long way to the state competition and the following months that ensue will consist of vigorous work and studying, the Science Olympiad team is determined that this just might be the year that Nationals is in their grasp, and with focus, devotion and determination, anything is possible.