Saline High School Science Olympiad Shines in National Tournaments


The 2021 Saline High School Science Olympiad season ended with a 3rd place finish at the state championship back in May 2021. Only the top two from Michigan advance to the National Championship. It was Saline’s strongest state performance ever after advancing to states for the last 12 consecutive years. 

Saline has been in the top 10 for 11 of those 12 years, with the only non-top 10 being an 11th. Pioneer and Northville represented Michigan last season. Saline had some amazing performances including third place at the University of Michigan, 39th in the MIT national competition and several other Ivy league tournaments. Still the team felt after 2021, that much was left on the table after missing Nationals.

After graduating six students from the varsity team in 2021, several new students joined from the younger classes. Seven seniors from the class of 2022 will be joined by members of the classes of 23, 24 and 25.  The team also added a very special achievement this past fall. Saline hosted its first ever Science Olympiad Tournament at the high school.

“It was exciting for all of us. We started small capping it to 24 teams from Ohio and Michigan as it was our first tournament. The tournament quickly filled. I also was so happy to see many of our alumni return to help run the day. We had parents of alumni, alumni now in college and we had several students from UofM come to help. It was a smashing success, with Westlake High School from Ohio capturing the first ever trophy," Saline coach Nath Akella said. 

Saline and co-host Troy Athens competed, but do not compete for team trophies as hosts.

Following that weekend, Saline attended the Northview Tournament in Ohio capturing Fourth overall, behind Pioneer, Mason (Ohio) and Solon (Ohio). All three were Nationals teams last year.

"It’s been really rewarding to see our team work hard to close the gap with the top mid-west teams. We’re just a little behind them now, but considering their programs often have 90 students to Saline’s 30, it’s pretty impressive that we are in their company,” Akella said.

The first of two exciting accomplishments in 2022 so far were Saline’s attendance at Caltech and the in-person Solon Invitational. COVID-19 made the Cal-Tech tournament a satellite tournament. Consequently, all the competition is done at one’s home high school. This meant 10 different video calls and video reviews of events along with online study event competition. All of it is very difficult to coordinate as the coach has to manage all the events. 

The team had an amazing first round where seven of eight video build submissions qualified for the second round. This meant Saline had a very strong chance of being a top team. Only seven schools managed to accomplish this. Overall, 19 of the 23 events had strong showings and Saline took 14th overall out of roughly 250 teams. 

This will be Saline’s first trophy from a national invitational.

Medalists from Saline include: 

  • Jason Chen and Sahil Thumma for 5th Place in Anatomy and Physiology
  • Alice Jiang and Ryan Landini for 18th
    place in Bridges 
  • Ayush Reddy and Alex Liu for 6th Place in Gravity Vehicle 
  • Jason Hu and Josie Cayen 10th
    place in Green Generation
  • Mason Miller and Jason Hu for 15th Place in Machine Learning
  • Josie Cayen and Joseph Chen 25th
    place in Ping Pong Parachute
  • Andrew Irgang and Adrien Sieh for15th Place in Run it Code it
  • Mason Miller and Jason Hu 16th
    place in Wifi Lab
  • Ryan Landini and Alice Jiang 4th place in Wright Stuff 
  • Ayush Reddy and Alex Liu 24th
    place in Write it Do it.

Not to be outdone, a week later, Saline boarded a charter and went to Solon, Ohio, for one of the best invitationals in the Eastern US. Historically, Saline has won one or two medals and the best performance previously was 14th place out of 72 teams. Saline fielded two teams and won 11 placements out of the 23 events run. For the first time ever, Saline left Solon with a team trophy taking 6th
overall. Teams ahead Saline included Mason (Ohio), last year’s national champion as well as Carmel, Indiana’s state Champion, New Trier and Adlai Stevenson- Illinois’ National representatives.

The Solon Highlights include:

  • Alice Jiang and Abby Rohde for a Silver medal in Bridges
  • Jason Hu and Josie Cayen for 5th in Dynamic Planet
  • Mason Miller and Jason Hu for a Gold Medal in Environmental Chemistry
  • Alex Liu, Alice Jiang and Joseph Chen for 8th
    Place in Experimental Design
  • Prasiddhi Shivakumaran and Jason Chen for 6th Place in Forensics
  • Ayush Reddy and Alex Liu for 6th
    Place in Gravity Vehicle
  • Jason Hu and Josie Cayen for 5th place in Green Generation
  • Josie Cayen and Joseph Chen for 4th
    Place in Ping Pong Parachute
  • Jason Hu and Josie Cayen for 2nd place in Remote Sensing
  • Mason Miller and Jason Hu for 7th
    place in Wifi lab
  • Riley Spencer and Emilly Marciewski for 6th place in Wright Stuff 
  • Ryan Landini and Alice Jiang for 3rd place for Wright Stuff.

There is a lot of hard work ahead. Our team is smaller than most of these top teams, so if means the students really must do more per person than other schools to be at the same level.

“I am so incredibly proud of them, they overcame the transition from Covid virtual schooling to back to the high school, some have not competed in person in over two years- so it’s a big jump for many of them.” Said Akella

Saline’s Season continues next week in Haslett.

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