Bishop Sullivan wins Blue Crab Bowl for 9th-straight year

  • Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School   Dominating for the 9th year in a row, students from BSCH’s Team A took 1st place in the Blue Crab Bowl after more than 45 competitive rounds. Coached by science teachers Bill Dunn (far R) and Dr. Carol Stapanowich (far L), team members include (L to R): Gerry Fernandez, Ignatius Liberto, Jake Leporte, Team Captain Patrick West, and Dominic Gentlesk.   © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.
  • Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Warsaw Campus   With only 1 loss after more than 45 matches, CBGS' Warsaw Campus Team A took a close 2nd place. Coached by science teacher Bethany Smith (far R), the team included (L to R): Stephen Parker (Northumberland HS); Lizzie Ellis (Essex HS); Michael Johnson (Washington & Lee HS); Team Captain Team John Richardson (Lancaster HS), and Hannah Gross (Essex HS).   © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.
  • Broadwater Academy Team A   Broadwater Academy’s Team A took 3rd place. Coached by science teacher Joe Spagnolo (far R), the team included (back row, L to R): Elijah Turner; Hayden Mabalot; John Gordon; Tristan Mariner and (front row, L to R) Nick Gomer and James Lord.   © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.
  • Broadwater Academy Team B   In a double win for their school, Broadwater Academy’s Team B took 4th place. Coached by science teacher Airlia Gustafson, team members include (L to R): Jacob McClaskey; Emily Kellam & Ethan Ross; Jack Salm and Zachary Lingle; Austin Murphy, and Heather Custis.   © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.
  • Collaboration   Seton School Team B collaborates on a Team Challenge Question.   © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.
  • Team Challenge Question   Team A from the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School works on a team challenge question, which requires a collaborative written answer to an analytical problem.   © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.
Photo - of -
Top science students from Virginia compete in 19th-annual regional ocean science bowl

Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School of Virginia Beach defended their title as winners of the annual Blue Crab Bowl for the ninth-straight year during the competition held at Old Dominion University in Norfolk on February 6th.

The Blue Crab Bowl is the Virginia regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB©), an annual academic contest to test knowledge of the oceans among high-school students. Bishop Sullivan will move on to represent the Commonwealth at the National Ocean Science Bowl on April 21-24 in Morehead City, North Carolina.

This year’s Blue Crab Bowl pitted 16 teams representing 9 Virginia high schools from across the Commonwealth, from Manassas in the north to Virginia Beach in the south, and from Warrenton in the west to Exmore on the Eastern Shore.

The 80 students spent the day in heated tournament competition focused on the marine sciences. It was a challenging day of both round-robin and double-elimination matches—more than 45 in all—but, after a tense final match-up, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High from Virginia Beach took 1st place, continuing its multi-year winning streak. In a very close 2nd place was Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Warsaw Campus Team A, coached by VIMS alumna Bethany Smith. Sweeping 3rd and 4th place were Broadwater Academy’s Teams A and B from Exmore.

VIMS volunteers, including this group, helped make the Bowl happen. L to R: Sarit Trusky; Jan McDowell, Ike Irby; Sarah Nuss, Erica Smith, and Kelsey Fall. © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.The Blue Crab Bowl is a cooperative effort between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, and Old Dominion University’s Department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences. More than 70 scientists, including faculty, graduate students, and staff from both institutions and NOAA donated many hours of their time to ensure the success of the event.

Virginia’s Blue Crab Bowl was among the inaugural NOSB competitions in 1998. Designed to inspire and challenge high-school students, NOSB contests like the Blue Crab Bowl test the competitors’ knowledge of the marine sciences, covering the breadth of oceanography and maritime disciplines. To date, the Blue Crab Bowl has involved more than 1,500 of the Commonwealth’s brightest science students from 52 public and private schools across Virginia.

The event alternates between VIMS and ODU. Next year’s 20th-annual Blue Crab Bowl will take place on the VIMS campus in Gloucester Point.

The theme of the 2016 National Ocean Sciences Bowl and its local competitions is “Our Changing Ocean: Science for Strong Coastal Communities,” a timely and relevant topic given that escalating population, erosion, more frequent flooding, development, storm impacts, and pollution are among the stressors that impact the protection, economic revenue, security, food, and recreational opportunities provided by our nation’s coasts.

Dr. Carol Hopper Brill, the Bowl Coordinator at VIMS, says “Using questions designed by marine scientists and educators, the contest tested students’ knowledge of oceanography, geology, biology, maritime history, and policy. The Bowl provides a forum for students who excel in math and science to receive regional and national recognition for their diligence and talent.”

Bishop Sullivan Catholic High Team B vs Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Glenns Campus. © Zoe Jakovenko/VASG.Guided by their teacher coaches, students broadened their awareness and understanding of the oceans as they prepared for the competition. During Saturday's event, the competition started with a field of 16 teams, with 4 emerging as top contenders by late afternoon.

At the end of the day, all teams were recognized during the Awards Ceremony by Bowl Coordinators Hopper Brill and Dr. Victoria Hill from ODU. Prizes—including custom-made trophies for the top 4 teams—were presented by Emily Hein, representing VIMS’ Office of Research and Advisory Services. The students received prizes and were applauded for their accomplishments and encouraged to continue their studies in interdisciplinary marine sciences. Coaches received science teaching resources and complimentary memberships in the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association.

The National Ocean Science Bowl is a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, DC. NOSB seeks to interest students in ocean science as a college major and potential career. Through 25 regional competitions across the nation, NOSB provides an educational forum intended to generate student interest in the ocean sciences; improve awareness of our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes; and create an “ocean literate” society that can meet the ocean challenges of the future. During 2016, an expected 2,000 students from more than 300 high schools from around the country will participate in the event.

The Blue Crab Bowl wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of national, regional, and local sponsors. In 2016, sponsors included The Edward T. Bedford Foundation; VIMS; ODU’s Department of Ocean Earth & Atmospheric Sciences; the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association and National Marine Educators Association; Wells Fargo, and Hampton Inn-Norfolk Naval Base. For a list of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s national sponsors, visit the NOSB website at

Competing 2016 teams
  1. Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School – Team A, Virginia Beach
  2. Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School – Team B, Virginia Beach
  3. Broadwater Academy – Team A, Exmore
  4. Broadwater Academy – Team B, Exmore
  5. Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Glenns Campus, Glenns
  6. Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Warsaw Campus– Team A, Warsaw
  7. Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Warsaw Campus– Team B, Warsaw
  8. Churchland High School, Portsmouth
  9. Culpeper County High School – Team A, Culpeper
  10. Culpeper County High School – Team B, Culpeper
  11. Fauquier High School, Warrenton
  12. Governor’s School for Science & Technology – Team A, Hampton
  13. Governor’s School for Science & Technology – Team B, Hampton
  14. Isle of Wight Academy, Isle of Wight
  15. Seton School – Team A, Manassas
  16. Seton School – Team B, Manassas