LHS takes second place in Far Nor Cal Science Bowl

The Lassen High School Science Bowl team, comprised of seniors Captain Jeremy Nielsen, Seamus Hays, junior Whitney Kellogg, and freshman Elijah Tuttle, competed in the Far Nor Cal Science Bowl at Shasta College on Saturday, March 4. Teams were invited from all nine northern California counties in both the middle and high school divisions.

After registration and breakfast, round-robin pools were created based on the teams that competed, as the wintry weather conditions prevented many schools from travelling to Redding for the competition. More than 100 people volunteered to help run this competition that showcases the academic prowess of students from across our region.

Teams of four faced off, with toss-up questions that either team could ring in and answer, followed by a bonus question for the team that correctly answered the toss-up question. Toss-up questions were worth 4 points, and bonus questions worth 10. Categories included chemistry, biology, earth and space science, physics, energy and math, with the majority being multiple choice questions while some were short answer questions. Each game was comprised of two eight-minute halves, with as many as 23 toss-up question.

To start the day, Lassen faced the U-Prep 2 team, with Lassen taking an early lead and maintaining that lead until the second half where U-Prep tied the score. On the second to last question, U-Prep pulled ahead by answering both the toss-up and bonus question correctly. Lassen responded by answering the last toss-up and bonus question correctly to pull even for their closest game of the day, each team scoring 64 points.

Lassen easily won their next five matches, scoring 92-4 against Gridley 1, 72-26 against Shasta 2, 76-32 against Shasta 3, 68-26 against Foothill 3, and 54-8 against Gridley 2. By virtue of their strong performance in pool play, they were seeded No. 2 in the playoff brackets. They took on Foothill 2 as the No. 7 seed, and after losing the lead early, they held Foothill scoreless in the second half of the game, winning 82-12. They then faced off against the No. 3 seed, Chico 2, holding them scoreless for the first half and winning 26-18 in a tight match that came down to the last question, which earned them a spot in the final match.

Sitting on stage in front of all the middle and high school teams, their coaches and supporters, Lassen faced off against U-Prep 1, the No. 1 seed, for the title and a trip to the National Science Bowl competition. Lassen’s Nielsen answered the first toss-up question correctly to take the early lead, which was quickly lost to the U-Prep team that answered the next four questions in a row. However, the score stayed close as no one was able to correctly answer the bonus questions. Lassen answered the next question correctly, and the team came up with a correct response to the bonus question, taking the lead back. At the end of the first half, Lassen was leading by a score of 22-20.

Lassen started the second half by extending their lead, but U-Prep came back with two consecutive correct responses. Lassen came right back to take the lead, but U-Prep took it back with a correct response and a bonus question, leading to a score of Lassen 40 and U-Prep 52. Lassen answered the final question correctly, and with time expired, had one last chance to answer a bonus question, which would give Lassen the lead and the championship. Unfortunately, the answer to the math question was off by 1, and Lassen took second place by a score of 44-52.

Lassen had its best showing at the Science Bowl since it last went to nationals in 2018. Given that the last two years, the Science Bowl was not held due to COVID restrictions, Lassen has finished in the top two twice in the last four competitions. The team thanks Coach Kevin McCullough for his efforts in preparing them for the event, and driver Bob Nielsen for getting them to and from the competition, despite the snow. The team also appreciates Lassen Municipal Utility District for sponsoring the event, along with many other sponsors from across the north state.