Science Olympiad teams from Polk County High School and Polk County Middle School earned trips to state competition on Saturday, each placing second in the North Carolina Science Olympiad Asheville Regional at UNC Asheville.

The runner-up finishes in both divisions earned the PCHS and PCMS squads a spot in the Science Olympiad state tournament, set for April 20-21 at North Carolina State University. It marks the second straight year that both schools have qualified for state competition.

Science Olympiad offers students a chance to compete in 23 team events, some involving subject tests, some involving building devices, some involving both.

Polk County High placed a close second on Saturday, finishing just one point behind regional champion Henderson County Early College. The PCHS team earned top honors in five events – Herpetology, Hovercraft, Microbe Mission, Mission Possible and Optics – in competition with students from 12 other schools in the area.

“Everything came together and the students competed well. I am proud of all their efforts,” said PCHS science department chair Jennifer Allsbrook, who leads the Science Olympiad team. “We showed a balance between construction events where students must build a device and events where students must prove their knowledge of specific science content.

“Our team would not be successful without the support of the PCHS science teachers, especially Leslie Rhinehart, whose guidance in the construction events has proved exceptional.”

PCHS students earning medals included:

Disease Detectives – Bronze: Victoria Bolling and Lane Walls
Ecology – Silver: Savannah Devine and Lane Walls
Helicopters – Bronze: John Lucas Kornmayer and Jack Tinkler
Herpetology – Gold: Victory Bolling and Lanes Walls
Hovercraft – Gold: Hayden Gary and Luke Rogers
Materials Science – Silver: Reese Alley and Drew Bailey
Microbe Mission – Gold: Reese Alley and Evan McCarthy
Mission Possible – Gold: Jack Tinkler and Jonah Wyatt
Mousetrap Vehicle – Silver: Jonah Wyatt and Jordan Wyatt
Optics – Gold: Savannah Devine and Luke Rogers
Ping Pong Parachute – Silver: John Lucas Kornmayer and Connor Holtz
Towers – Bronze: Hayden Gary and Luke Rogers

The PCHS junior varsity placed fifth, earning event wins in Astronomy, Hovercraft and Towers. Students winning medals included:

Astronomy – Gold: Alex Mize and Tyler Twitty
Disease Detectives – Silver: Amelia Nespeca and Megan Searcy
Hovercraft – Gold: Tristan Mistler and Jackson Edwards
Microbe Mission – Silver: Tristan Mistler and Megan Searcy
Rocks and Minerals – Silver: Alex Mize and Delaney Suddreth
Thermodynamics – Silver: Rylee Barwell and Lucas Shlapak
Towers – Gold: Rylee Barwell and Lucas Shlapak

Polk County Middle School’s Science Olympiad team (photo courtesy Elisa Flynn)

Polk Middle placed second behind Fairview Middle School from Sylva in the 10-team competition. The PCMS squad earned event victories in Herpetology, Hovercraft, Meterorology, Thermodynamics and Wright Stuff.

The Polk Middle JV team took top honors, topping a seven-team competition that included two entries from Fairview. Polk Middle had event wins in Crimebusters, Disease Detectives, Duct Tape Challenge, Dynamic Planet, Fast Facts, Herpetology, Meteorology, Potions and Poisons, Rocks and Minerals, Thermodynamics and Wright Stuff.

There is no state JV competition.