Tigers take second at Vegas science bowl

When the Douglas High School academic team lost to Henderson's Coronado High in the second round of the Regional Science Bowl Tournament on Jan. 30, team members thought it was the end of their Vegas vacation.

"We thought, 'Hey, we gave it our best shot,'" said senior Noah O'Connor. "We just came down here to have fun anyway."

Team Captain Ben Syang, 17, said it might have been that same relaxed attitude that gave his team an advantage in the double-elimination, quiz-bowl-style tournament.

"We really didn't get that nervous," said Syang. "Everyone else was scared to buzz in with the wrong answer."

After their initial loss, the fearless Tigers continued buzzing in with the right answers. 'What type of radiation emits from a brown nebula?' were just some of the science-heavy questions thrown at students.

"They got progressively harder," said junior Bart Niday.

"It became a little grueling with one round after the other until the finals," said O'Connor.

Starting around 7:30 a.m., the five-member team endured 11 rounds of competition until about 5 p.m.

"My stomach started hurting a little," said Syang.

But the students persevered. Out of 32 teams from Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, Douglas High won the second-place title, losing only to Las Vegas' Palo Verde High.

"This is a highly competitive, prestigious competition," said DHS math teacher and academic coach Larry Lippmann. "I've been doing this for 18 years, and this is the best Douglas High School has ever done at the science bowl."

As the top team in Northern Nevada, the Tigers received a trophy, a plaque and an oversized $2,500 check.

"It will go into the academic team account," Lippmann said. "There are general expenses, but we'd like to purchase a buzzer system like they have in 'Jeopardy' to practice with."

"We'll take a vote, and all members will have to agree how to spend it," said Syang.

The team already celebrated a little with a rich buffet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas after the competition.

"Maybe next year, instead of staying in the UNLV dormitories, the students can stay in a fancy hotel," Lippmann added.

The victorious Douglas High academic team includes Niday, Syang, O'Connor, younger brother Seth O'Connor, and Justin Donat.

Their next competition is Feb. 22 in Carson City.

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