Orca Bowl squad sidesteps narrow defeat, earns berth at nationals

Friday Harbor Orca Bowl
Friday Harbor Orca Bowl 'A' Team, from left; Emily Guard, Michael Barsamian, Libby Snow, Gavin Guard.
— image credit: Scott Rasmussen

The quest for a fourth consecutive trip to the national marine sciences competition seemed all but lost.

Friday Harbor, the three-time defending state Orca Bowl champ, had suffered a heartbreaking defeat, falling by a mere three points to Garfield High School in the final stage of the Washington's state annual regional showdown, Feb. 23, on the University of Washington campus.

But a snap to its win-streak wasn't the final chapter, not by a long shot. Why?

Because Garfield declined to cash in on its automatic berth and, as state runner-up, Friday Harbor is next in line.

"I think the way we got in may motivate the kids to actually study even harder," said Jessie Visciglia, faculty advisor of Friday Harbor's Orca Bowl squad. "We're back in the race."

In a quasi-Jeopardy-like format, members of the marine sciences teams face myriad ocean-related toss-up questions and team challenge questions that can span the range of just about any field of natural science; chemistry, biology, physics, geology, history, economics, etc.

With its backdoor berth into the national showdown, senior Gavin Guard, and juniors Michael Barsamian, Emily Guard and Libby Snow — the Wolverines "A" team — will join a field of roughly 24 teams from around the nation competing April 18-21 in Milwaukee, Wis., for the title of champion of the 2013 National Ocean Sciences Bowl, aka the Orca Bowl. Friday Harbor placed 13th in the national showdown, in Baltimore, a year ago.

Sponsored by the Washington D.C.-based Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl draws about 2,000 students from more than 300 high schools to regional competitions across the U.S. The top four finishers typically earn a trip to notable places such as Catalina Island, Duke University's Marine Lab or a science-related marine adventure.

This year's finale will take place in the backyard of the national competition's 2012 champ, Wisconsin's Marshfield High School, and the theme is, "The Great Lakes: A Window into Fresh Water Science." Now that, sounds like a clue.

— Scott Rasmussen



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