Mountain View Science Olympiad team will be going to Nationals for first time


Angelina Ma

Mountain View Science Olympiad won first place at the 2021 Northern California State Science Olympiad Tournament, after placing second for the past three consecutive years. The club’s most competitive team, the black team, will go on to represent Northern California at the national competition, which will be held on May 22. 

The team’s competitive season from last year had been cut short right as they were peaking, according to Coach Punam Gollamudi. They had just beat the reigning national champion, Troy Science Olympiad, at the Golden Gate Invitational Tournament last March, and were about to win first place at the upcoming state tournament.

The missed opportunity played a big role in motivating the team to pick up right where they had left off for the 2020-2021 competitive season.

“I think [the team] wanted to redeem themselves because they felt like they missed out last year,” Gollamudi said.

According to Gollamudi, Mountain View’s team thrived in COVID while teams from other schools did not. Despite having to meet over Zoom for the vast majority of the school year, the team kept routine with their weekly workshops and check-ins with partners and mentors, even meeting during the Christmas, winter, and spring breaks.

“I think we just stayed really strong while other teams, because of COVID, might have had less preparation,” said black team member Ethan Solomon. “We kept routine and just stayed really consistent.”

Being online also allowed the team to participate in a greater number of tournaments and invitationals rather than just their local ones, such as the University of Texas invitational in November and the MIT Invitational in March. In these competitions, the team was able to compete against other nationally ranked teams, according to Co-president Cassie Lee, giving them a preview of what their competition will look like on the day of nationals. 

“We were able to participate in tournaments on the East Coast and across the country… our team got to show how they compare to… other nationally known teams,” Gollamudi said.

Lee and Solomon expect the team to do well at nationals, considering having received high placements at previous national-level competitions, such as the aforementioned invitationals. Lee believes that with workshops having returned in-person recently, the renewed social aspect of Science Olympiad will “increase people’s motivation even more.”