WATERVILLE — The Waterville Senior High School Science Olympiad team will head to the national tournament in Florida next month after winning its 16th state championship Saturday.

The 15 students, under the guidance of head coach Jon Ramgren and assistant coach Rosemarie Smith, competed with 18 teams from around the state at University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

“This is sweet 16 because this is our 16th state championship,” Smith said.

Tournaments are rigorous team events that challenge students to solve problems using biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and engineering.

Smith, a chemistry teacher who has coached and worked with Science Olympiad teams for many years, said the current team is one of the most cooperative groups she has ever worked with.

The students started preparing in September and worked long and hard, she said.

“It’s a three-season sport at Waterville and it isn’t, at a lot of schools,” she said.

Ramgren, also a chemistry teacher, said the team had a lot of fun at the state competition, and when events did not go well, they were able to recover quickly.

Senior Callum Thomas, 18, worked with senior Anthony Bellavia and won an event to build a balsam tower that could hold 15 kilograms, which is 33 pounds, while weighing the least. Their tower held only 14 kilograms, or 30.8 pounds, but it beat all the other contenders.

Thomas, who has been involved in Science Olympiad three years, said he plans to attend Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., in the fall and major in math or science. He said he may choose a career related to the climate or renewable energy.

Sophomore Adrian Rivas, 16, and juniors Will Bolduc and Phoebe Downer were given about 50 minutes to design an experiment about elasticity using limited set of materials, Rivas said. They placed second in the event.

Rivas said he enjoys Science Olympiad and has learned a lot in his first year being part of a team. He has been thinking lately about going into medicine, he said.

“After taking biology my freshman year, and chemistry, I realized I really like science and actually, with chemistry this year, I liked it so much I’m thinking about a science-related career, for sure.”

Other team members are seniors Darien Acero, Michael Bailey, Zachary Caruso, Ben Congdon-Jones, and Allie Wu; juniors Georgia Bolduc, Mollie Pleau, John Terhune and Ryan Tozier; and sophomore Joseph Bellavia.

The national Science Olympiad is May 19 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

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