Bishop Ludden’s 27 individual medals and fourth-place team finish shocked the crowd at the March 5 Regional B-Level Science Olympiad at East Syracuse-Minoa High School. The team qualified for States after only two years as a team and will be heading to SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge for the April 8-9 event.
Coach Linda Mandanas, a retired physician, credits hard work and adaptability as the keys to the team’s success. “We work with very little money; that forced us to be creative. When other schools were building devices out of expensive metals, we adapted and built ours out of cheaper materials, like PVC,” she said. Religion teacher Marguerite Kolinski and English teacher Maxine Babcock complete the coaching squad. All three coaches volunteer their time to the team. “We believe in the importance of science, especially for girls,” said Babcock.
Grace and Katherine Babcock combined for first place honors in Can’t Judge a Powder. Grace medaled in all four of her individual events, scoring in Crimebusters, Experimental Design, and Road Scholar. Coach Mandanas said, “Grace brought two years of Science Olympiad medaling experience from Faith Heritage to our school and has anchored our team for both years.”
Katherine partnered with Sarah Mandanas to medal in Disease Detectives for the second year in a row. Sarah also medaled in Towers with Alex Gross. Gross and twin brother Ted combined for their Fossils medal. Claire Sheen scored in both Crimebusters and Experimental Design, while Cameron Rustay improved his Ornithology score from last year’s fourth to third this year with Hope DeFazio. He also took home an Experimental Design medal.
DiFazio combined with Erin Morrell for medals in Awesome Aquifers and Meteorology. Hope also took third in Ornithology. Alex Macy and Maia Jaquin were another power pair, medaling in the two trial events, Helicopter and Bottle Rocket. Alex also partnered with Alex Parsons to score in Storm the Castle with their trebuchet. Marissa Ruan- Foster medaled in Road Scholar, while seventh graders Griffin Walker and Anthony Farina did much of the building and scored several top tens in their first Olympiad. Both took home team medals, as did second year members and alternates Claire and Elise Bouchard. Sarah Rose Costello, a member of the team for two years, will be competing at States in several events.
Coach Babcock cites the support of a dedicated group of parents, mentors and volunteers as another key to success. “One of the things that makes Ludden unique is that we band together, especially in tough economic times. Students worked as peer mentors, many for two years, others sold food at our fundraiser. Curt Czarniak, the previous principal, founded the team last year and personally mentored the Ornithology team. The new principal, Michael Sandore, also values science and has championed the team. Bishop Ludden also thanks Faith Heritage. Their coaches, Tim Murphy and Scott Auwater, provided valuable support over the last two years and embodied the spirit of Science Olympiad,” she said. Babcock noted that both teams work with very little money and a great spirit; both are headed to States this year with the Fayetteville-Manlius squads.