By answering complex and college-level questions, Maui High School captured its fifth Hawaii Regional Ocean Sciences Bowl title Saturday at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The Sabers defeated Punahou School of Oahu, 89 to 18, in the championship round. Another Maui High School team took fourth place. St. John's School of Guam came in third.
"Placing one and four is not that easy," said coach and former longtime Maui High School science teacher Ed Ginoza.
A Maui High School team captured the 2012 Hawaii Regional Ocean Sciences Bowl title Saturday on Oahu. The team (from left) included Ryan Vidad, Steven Okada, Bryson Galapon, Gabe Salazar, Chris Kim and coach Ed Ginoza.
The competition, also called the Aloha Bowl, featured multiple choice, essay and other types of questions on marine science, biology, geology and social issues. Much of the preparation the students did delved into college textbooks, Ginoza said.
"You have to know a lot," he added.
The Saber team that took the title was made up mostly of newcomers to the competition, but Ginoza said he "had a feeling they had it in them" to win.
On Saturday, Ginoza's gut feeling was confirmed as that top team averaged 100 points in the early rounds. Other high-scoring schools from Hawaii were only averaging in the 70s.
As state winners, the top Saber team advances to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl to be held in April in Baltimore. Maui High will compete against 25 teams across the nation.
"The team and I are very pleased. The entire team put in a huge amount of work and time into practicing, and to see our efforts vindicated, brings us utter satisfaction," said team captain and junior Steven Okada in an email.
Okada's team is the same team that took third place about a month ago in a tough loss in another competition, the Science Bowl. The 16-year-old said that the loss in the Science Bowl drove the team to work harder.
"I think much of our victory had to do with the experience we had from the first competition and that made the difference," he said.
Okada said the biggest challenge they faced Saturday was achieving the right competition mindset.
"Going into the matches, our team knew we were the best prepared in terms of knowledge. However, playing the game was another problem. Getting over the anxiety and actually buzzing in to answer questions was the hard part," he said.
In addition, the students had only about one month to prepare for the Ocean Sciences Bowl, after studying for the Science Bowl, Ginoza said.
While there is a little overlap of topics to study in both bowls, Ginoza said that the Ocean Sciences Bowl challenges students to learn about specific topics, such as the ocean floor, the Earth's core, lakes, hurricanes, currents, as well as some chemistry and physical science.
For example, he said an easier question that could be posed in the competition might be:
What keeps England from freezing over?
Answer: The Gulf Stream.
Students may be asked to identify all the parts of a dolphin or about the purposes of different types of ocean-related conferences held.
Freshman Christopher Kim of the winning team said that they prepared with Ginoza during their lunch hours at school as well as two hours after school. He also studied books and websites one to two hours a day, seven days a week, at home.
Kim said that even though preparing for the competition does take a lot of time he enjoys learning about science.
"I enjoy doing this kind of stuff. Mr. Ginoza has really
inspired me to take my learning of science to another level.
I think because of that, I'm beginning to understand a lot of different concepts, and I want to even know more than I do currently."
The 14-year-old Kahului resident said that he'll be studying even more for the national competition.
"I want to represent not only our island, but our state as best as possible," he said.
The winning team also consisted of senior Ryan Vidad and sophomores Bryson Galapon and Gabriel Salazar. Salazar is the only Ocean Sciences Bowl veteran.
The team that placed fourth was led by captain and sophomore Riley Camp, along with junior Stephany Flores-Ramosa and sophomores Jasmine Feliciano, Wyman Tong and Wendy Pias.
Each member of the first-place team received a $200 Apple gift card.
Maui High School science teacher Nathanial Mickelson assisted Ginoza with the team.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.