Paly SciOly team makes impressive debut at Nationals

Becca Raffel, Author

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The Palo Alto High School Science Olympiad team returns to school victorious this week after placing 16th out of 60 teams and earning several individual medals on Sunday at the Science Olympiad National Tournament in Dayton, Ohio.

This strong finish marks the Paly team’s debut in the national tournament. The 60 teams that participated in the tournament were from all 50 states and were “state champions,” according team advisor Shawn Leonard.

SciOly team members Annie Chen and Jasen Liu received first place medals for Forestry. Other medals were earned by Nicholas Quach and Jeffrey Yan, who placed third place in Materials Science. Gary Chen and Jasen Liu took fourth place in Water Quality, and Max Krawczyk and Jeffrey Ling received fifth place medals in Remote Sensing.

Chen, who received the first medal of the night at the competition, praised the team’s performance despite some obstacles. She and Liu have now placed first at both the regional, state and national competitions.

“We did have some problems that were avoidable if we had spent time fixing them before competition day, but seeing as we didn’t have any prior experience, we didn’t think of these problems,” Chen said. “We did have some events in which we had too many small mistakes that snowballed, and at Nationals, you really can’t afford to make any mistakes. Considering it is our first year at nationals, though, we did really well.”

Chen was surprised and excited to win the medal.

“When they were announcing the places for the event starting from sixth place up to first, once they had announced second place, I had given up on the hope of placing,” Chen said. “When they announced ‘Palo Alto High School,’ there was that second when it didn’t register, and then I jumped up screaming in disbelief with the entire team.”

Chen echoed the sentiment from the majority of the team members when she said, “I still feel pretty shocked but also amazed.”