Nearly 200 high schools in Michigan vie for one of the two slots representing Michigan in the National Science Olympiad Tournament. The State Tournament in Lansing is the culmination of nearly a year's worth of work for students and coaches statewide as they try to be one of those two schools. Saline finished seventh on Saturday at the Michigan state championship tournament. 48 team compete at the state tournament after earning berths from their regions. Saline won the Region 9 championship in March and represented the region in Lansing.
Saturday, Saline won medals in seven of the 23 events, including a gold medal for Robot Arm that earned a perfect score. Unfortunately, the day was not perfect and a couple of events did not go as planned, dropping the team several places and out of contention.
Still Coach Nath Akella was very proud of the team.
"The top teams in Michigan come to Lansing and often the top 15 places in an event get decided by very close margins. One small error could cost you 15 places sometimes. So you need a perfect day across 23 events to advance," Akella said. "This year's Saline team had good chemistry and worked hard over the course of the year to prepare for this day. They were very disappointed that we did not take a top two slot and missed nationals. To be honest, from this state it's really hard to do. Michigan and four other states tend to be the most competitive states in the country. Michigan teams that qualify tend to finish in the top 15 nationally. We were very optimistic of our chances after beating the number six national school in Ionia earlier in the season."
State Champion Northville and Runner up Troy High School will represent Michigan this year. They edged out Detroit Country Day (3rd), Grand Haven (4th), International Academy (5th), West Ottawa (6th) and Saline (7th) for that honor.
"I am especially proud of how this team responded this year. We have a new head coach and have many freshmen on the team. The beginning of the year was very difficult as we adapted to a new style and a new format," Akella said. "So I am very optimistic that Saline will attend a national tournament in the upcoming years."
Saline Science Olympiad is open to all students and will be adding students through the fall. An info session will be held in June.