Turning the Tide: Jefferson advances to National Ocean Sciences Bowl


Chabeli Yumang

(From left to right: sophomore Alex Zhang, junior Kenny Johnson, senior Mark Putman, sophomore Chris Kan, senior MJ Old) Jefferson’s Ocean Bowl A Team stands with their certificate and trophy for the Chesapeake Bay Bowl, a first for the club in five years.

Chabeli Yumang, Staff Writer

For the first time in four years, on February 16, Jefferson’s Ocean Bowl A team won the regional competition, the Chesapeake Bay Bowl, and will advance to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) taking place from April 11-14 in Washington, D.C.

Until now, Montgomery Blair High School from Silver Spring, Maryland has always won the Chesapeake Bay Bowl against Jefferson in the championship round since 2015.

“I remember that the [Jefferson] team was too afraid to take risks and buzz in before the question was fully read,” senior and co-captain Mark Putman said. “In the championship competition, our team would be winning after the first round of toss-ups and the TCQs [written team challenge questions]. However, the other team would catch up and ultimately win.”

This buzzer anxiety was noticeable to even the spectators of the championship round.

“I saw the [Jefferson] A team last year, and I thought that they simply did not buzz fast enough, even if they knew the material,” sophomore Chris Kan said.

The 2019 Chesapeake Bay Bowl went as usual for Jefferson, with three wins in the Round Robin rounds and a win in their elimination round, advancing the A team to the championship round. Like previous years, the team faced Montgomery Blair in a tight round with the two teams having extremely close scores that often tied as the round progressed.

“The competition was stressful from start to end. In the very first round we got off to a terrible start and then won 90-60. I rarely felt like victory in any match was assured,” senior and co-captain MJ Old said.

“I did feel a little nervous. At first, it seemed that our team dynamic was kind of off, especially since I interrupted a question and got it wrong for the first time during the actual competition,” Putman said. “However, during the second half, I felt much better. We were performing the same way we had been before, and I felt more confident that we were going to win.”

After the timer for the last round of toss-ups ended, Jefferson’s B Team members cheered while the A Team members momentarily stood in shock.

“In the final round I was not keeping track of where we were in the round, so when Mark pointed out that we were ahead going into the last question I was surprised,” Old said. “I didn’t really believe it.”

For the two newcomer A team members, sophomore Alex Zhang and junior Kenny Johnson, the victory was a welcome surprise.

“I was happy, but I’m not sure if I was excited as the others because it was my first year so I hadn’t felt the sting of defeat before,” Johnson said.

With a long-awaited regional victory by their side, both TJ Ocean Bowl teams will continue their usual study routine: self-study the topics they missed, review presentations from years before, and do buzzer practice with toss-up questions. Since this year’s NOSB theme is the effect of technology on ocean policy, both teams plan to especially study oceanographic technology and ocean policy so that the B team will be prepared for next year and that the A team may make a national win. Most importantly, though, the TJ Ocean Bowl captains hope that these competitions will bring the team members together.

“My hopes for the national competition is to have fun as a team,” Putman said. “I feel like the weekend meetings and competitions are a good bonding experience.”