By Tim Leeds
Havre High students rose above 14 other teams last Saturday to tie for fifth at the State Science Bowl in Billings.
Fergus High School won the event, CMR A team took second, Billings Skyview A team placed third, Billings West A team was fourth, and Joliet tied with Havre for fifth.
The Havre team was among 20 competing at the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored event. The schools included several class AA schools and multiple teams from some of the schools.
The Havre team won all of its four guaranteed morning rounds at the double-elimination event.
The first round was against the Billings West B team. Havre won that round 104-74. Havre won the second round against Plentywood 112-48, the third round against J-I 48-36, and defeated the Billings West A team 76-72 in the fourth round.
In the first afternoon playoff round, Havre lost to Joliet 112-50. The Havre team came back to defeat Billings Senior in the next round 78-42, but lost their second round of the meet to the CMR A team, 70-98.
Tom Billingsley, Brian Ehlert, Thea Maristuen Jayson Nissen and James Howland represented Havre at the competition. Billingsley is the son of Owen and Margaret Billingsley, Ehlert is the son of Mark and Pam Ehlert, Maristuen is the daughter of Keith and Chris Maristuen, Nissen is the son of Charles Nissen and Amy Booker, Howland is the son of Jay and Shannon Howland.
The teams were divided into four divisions for the event. Each team competed against every team in its division in the preliminary rounds. The teams received two points for every round won and one point for a tie. The top two teams from each division qualified for the afternoon playoff rounds.
Carol Pleninger, a coach of the Havre team, said that the third round was the toughest preliminary round. She said they saw the hardest questions for both sides in that round. The questions teams have to answer is simply the luck of the draw, she said.
The playoff round Havre lost to Joliet was also a very difficult round, Pleninger said. She said their last loss, to the CMR A team, was to the team that won the competition and traveled to Washington, D.C. last year. She said the winner, Fergus High School, has won the competition several times since it began in 1991.
Pleninger said she was pleased with the team's finish and performance. Only one of Havre's team members had participated in the competition before, when Billingsley was on last year's fourth place team.
"The kids competed really well," she said.
She said she hopes to field two teams next year, possibly with one younger team to gain experience for future competitions.