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Oakdale Teams Advance In Science Olympiad
Normal 0 0 1 64 366 oakdale leader 3 1 449 11.1282 0 0 0 OHS Science Olympiad team members celebrate their championship at the Regional contest on March 6 and will advance to the NorCal contest. They are, in random order, Jesse Gelders, Andrew Gilpin, Ryan Gilpin, Kyle Jones, Madison Lane, Valerie Lopez, Todd Medema, Paul Perrone, Donovan Roberts, Pablo Rodriguez, Erika Villa, JT Vizenor, Zachary Webber-Reitz, Danny Wong. Coach Cameron Nickerson is at right front. - photo by COURTESY OF RALPH MEDEMA

Oakdale High School science teacher and Science Olympiad coach Cameron Nickerson said it best when he reported, “Oakdale Science Olympians rocked the Regionals.”

The OHS team won first place for the second consecutive year at the Regional Science Olympiad held March 6 at CSU Stanislaus. The Oakdale Junior High School team placed third in its division and both teams will now move on to the Northern California (NorCal) Science Olympiad competition set for Saturday, April 17 at Clovis North High School in Fresno.

“I would like to say how proud I am to be called the coach of such a fantastic group of scientists. The team spirit shown was amazing,” Nickerson said. “When we were picking up our first gold medal after a long string of second and fifth place, the team spontaneously broke out in a chant of ‘Oakdale Mustangs,’ complete with the bleacher stomp. We were the only team to do that.”

The OHS team scored 168 points, winning by a sizable margin. The Oakdale Gold team brought home medals in 15 out of 23 events. The Red team (alternates for the Gold team) entered just one event and earned bronze medals. Every OHS team member earned at least one medal.

The OJHS Gold team earned 167 points in their division, placing third. There were only seven points separating the OJHS team from the first place team. OJHS medaled in 17 of 23 events, bringing home 47 total medals. Medals were won by 24 of 30 OJHS team members. OJHS sent two teams of 15 students each to the competition.

“What a day it was (Saturday),” said OJHS coach and district science teacher Anne Marie Bergen. “So many personal bests, several super surprises, excellent team spirit, fantastic support system from all of our parents.”

She added that many of her team members have been involved in Science Olympiad since the fourth grade. She said that the two teams “practiced together, helped each other, worked together” and that the students had many personal bests.

Nickerson initially had concerns about personnel changes on the OHS teams prior to competition, but it worked out for them anyway.

“We have such a strong team. Everyone worked very hard to get things ready for competition,” Nickerson said. “Three team members were originally on the Red team, our alternates, and moved up to fill in spots left vacant when some original Gold team members had to drop out. They brought home medals in events that they had practically no time to study for.”

Nickerson said that they are looking forward to the state competition but noted that it is only five weeks away. Bergen echoed his sentiments and let her students know that they’d have a team party, but there won’t be any time to rest on their laurels. Planning and preparation to move on to the state level is already in the works.

Nickerson added that the financial support provided by the School Site Council and Academic Boosters made it possible for the team to compete. He added that the team had a lot of parental support, with three of the parents giving up the chance to see their kids perform at the contest in order to volunteer to run an event at the Olympiad. Other parents volunteered and helped in other ways. Nickerson also said that OHS staff was very supportive and that Vice Principal Dennis Hitch helped the team on Saturday with an event-day problem.

Bergen also sang the praises of supportive and helpful team parents, who did everything from providing snacks and sandwiches, running events, providing team T-shirts, and assisting Bergen behind the scenes.

See the March 17 issue of The Oakdale Leader for specific results on how the Oakdale Science Olympiad teams performed at the event. Photos of the teams can be seen on Page A2 of this week’s issue.