Eudora High School’s Science Olympiad team claims state title
photo by: Contributed photo
The Eudora High School Science Olympiad team’s 2020-21 season was a classic example of practice making perfect.
After starting its season in the fall by placing 177th out of 200 in a virtual national tournament, the Eudora team finished its season as champions in the Kansas Science Olympiad small school division on Saturday.
Barbie Hartwell, a gifted-program teacher for Eudora schools and a coach for the team, told the Journal-World Thursday that she was proud of the team’s members, who showed determination to improve throughout the season.
“It was kind of a culture shock to place so low, but it was also having to do it virtually and learning a new system,” Hartwell said of the first tournament. “We did one event every month to give them the chance of practicing (virtually), and a lot of schools didn’t do that.
“It’s been difficult, but totally worth it,” she added.
Science Olympiad is a team education competition where members participate in 23 events for various types of sciences, such as chemistry, engineering and physics. Hartwell said it’s structured kind of like a track and field meet.
In the small school division, Eudora beat out area schools such as Tonganoxie and Ottawa high schools. The large school division included Johnson County schools and Lawrence Free State High School.
However, Eudora will not head to nationals, as Blue Valley West High School was the overall state champion and will represent Kansas at that tournament. Eudora finished third overall.
The Eudora Middle School team also performed well at the tournament, Hartwell said. The younger students placed sixth in the large school division. Normally, the team would have been considered a small school, but it was pushed up because of the fewer number of teams this year, she said.
But the high school team claiming the small school title was special for the team members because they did not get to compete in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said the team, which finished in first place at its 2020 regional tournament, felt it had a chance of claiming the title last year, too.
The team was also happy to win the title for its head coach, Julie Splichal, who has been out sick recently, Hartwell said. Splichal is also leaving the school district at the end of the year, as she and her husband, Superintendent Steve Splichal, plan to move out of state.
“The kids really wanted to do it for her, for her last year as a Science Olympiad coach here,” Hartwell said. “They set a goal and reached it.”
The Eudora High School team includes:
• Seniors: Matthew Karten and Grace Schieferecke;
• Juniors: Kira Baker, Lauren Brinsfield, Ellie Isenburg, Garrett Shoemaker, Sam Walters, Steven Young;
• Sophomores: Natalie Karten and Liz Mueting;
• Freshman: Joshua Fortner, Ryleigh Hartwell, Georgia Martin, Max Nokes and Justin Shoemaker;
• Alternates: Chloe Heide, Caleb Gregory, Karissa Baker and Lilly Rife.
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