Mayo Science Olympiad Club shines in 2023 State Tournament


Sunny Chang, Staff Writer

On March 4th, the Mayo Science Olympiad team took third place in the 2023 State Tournament at Bethel University, creating the opportunity for Nationals for next year. 

After a ferocious battle, the Mayo Science Olympiad team shows off their third place trophy. Front row (kneeling, l-r): Max Rivera, Ezra Weldegabriel, Rohil Patel, Marc Zoghby, and Noah Spinner – Back row: Srinidhi Babu, Ruby Mako, Geeta Ashrani, Sundari Mehta, Andrew Sun, Jason Ding, Cody Qiu, Ethan Mcpherson, Cooper Gamble, Kamil Kukla, and Jeffrey Wang

For the past several years, the Mayo Science Olympiad team has fought its way into the top five of each state tournament. It is an admirable feat and a testament to their hard work and dedication. Team captain, senior student Marc Zoghby, and the moderator of the Science Olympiad club Mr. Aaron Larson point out the reason for this pattern. The main priority of the Science Olympiad club is community. They are open to anyone who is passionate about science, which helps the members stay motivated and encourages cooperation with others. 

However, a few years ago, all of that changed when the COVID-19 pandemic attacked. As expected, the club lost membership when it became more difficult to interact with each other. It also did not help that the competitions had been moved online, discouraging potential new members from joining. In fact, Mayo’s 2021 Science Olympiad team consisted of less than ten students, most of them seniors. At the start of the following school year, around four students returned. Zoghby, who recently became team captain, was overwhelmed at first but knew that he would need to increase membership in order to make a run in the 2022 competitions.

When the pandemic calmed down, the club put in the effort to advertise and grow, and their effort bore fruit. They had just enough members to evenly distribute work throughout the tournament. Despite it being their first in-person competition since COVID and through all of the other trials and tribulations, in 2022 they were still able to place 11th best in state. Still, they were not satisfied and set their sights on loftier goals. 

Now that they have experienced their first in-person competition since the pandemic started, the club members realized the wonders of what it means to participate in Science Olympiad and knew what to expect. Noticing the lack of communication after the pandemic died down, the club created new avenues to solve that issue, such as creating an active Discord server. The team captain shot for the goal to enter the national tournament. As hype spread, many members, around 40, came to the first Science Olympiad meeting for the 2023 competition. The amount of training and the number of meetings intensified. It began to look like the club was picking itself up and had the potential to reach the Nationals.

(l-r): Sundari Mehta, Ruby Mako, Geeta Ashrani, and Srinidhi Babu enjoy their time together competing on the state level.

After taking a bus on March 4th, 2023, the Mayo Science Olympiad team reached Bethel University to settle the score in the state tournament. Different subjects were divided into block schedules for the team members to address. Each member prepared beforehand for their designated test that they had chosen. According to Zoghby, one of the biggest challenges the club focused on was the build events, which he explained take more time than what is given on the day of competition: “we can’t start like 5 [or] 6 build events three weeks before state.” These events had to be done prior to the competition and took time to complete; procrastination was a devil. 

At the end of the state tournament, the Mayo team did well, scoring a low score of 125 points. Some members of the Mayo team earned an astonishing 4 medals, like Ezra Weldegabriel. Many worked arduously on the time-consuming build events, like Noah Spinner and Kamil Kulka. Although the team failed to secure a place in the national competition, they had improved their performance by eight places in a single year, becoming the third best Science Olympiad club in the state. In fact, they were tantalizingly close to winning it all: the difference between their results and the first-place winner Mounds View was 24 points, which according to Mr. Larson is roughly equal to “two bad events.” Although both teams earned the same amount of medals in the state tournament, it takes just one or two more mistakes to end it all. However, based on the example of hard work and cooperation that brought the team this far, the future looks very bright for the Mayo Spartan Science Olympiad team.

(l-r): Cooper Gamble, Marc Zoghby, Rohil Patel, Ezra Weldegabriel, and Jeffrey Wang have helped make Mayo’s Science Olympiad team one of the three best in Minnesota.


Photos courtesy of Aaron Larson