Viera teams place first, second at Manatee Bowl


Members of the Viera High's ocean science academic team had a historic performance at the Manatee Bowl, finishing first and second. Viera's winning team will compete in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl from April 20 to 23 at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore.

photo by Carl Kotala

In six previous trips to a regional ocean science academic competition known as the Manatee Bowl, Viera High’s teams had always performed well, but never taken home the big prize.

So imagine the excitement when this year’s final came down to two teams ... Viera’s A Team vs. Viera’s B Team.

“We knew Viera was coming home with a victory no matter what,” Viera senior B Team member Brennan Chase said. “We just didn’t know who it was going to be.”

Viera’s B Team actually beat the A Team in the first contest, but since it was a double-elimination event — and the A Team came in undefeated during the preliminaries — the two sides had to face off again. And this time, it was the A Team that came out on top at the event held at Florida Atlantic in February.

So not only did Viera win the competition where students test their ocean science knowledge through buzzer-style, multiple-choice questions and open-ended, team challenge questions, but the Hawks finished first and second.

“It was pretty cool,” senior A Team captain Griffin Pharmer said. “I really didn’t know whether or not we were going to win it when we first went in there.

“I mean, I was confident in our team, but just to know we actually got through was pretty amazing.”

Not only did the team of Mitchel Necessary, Alex Krestan, Pharmer, Eric Beck and Hannah Howe make history by winning the school’s first Manatee Bowl, the group is heading to Oregon State University for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals from April 20 to 23.

Morgan Woodard, who teaches marine sciences at Viera, coached the teams with her mother, Debbie Tweedie, and with help from alumnus Oscar Sang, who has been coming in every Wednesday.

Woodard couldn’t be prouder of her students.

“I’ve never had a group that is so accepting of each other and hard working,” Woodard said. “They were getting together doing their independent study groups since October, going to each other’s houses or meeting at restaurants or Starbucks. They’ve put in the time.”

And they’re still putting it in.

Members of the B Team — captain Valerie Falconer, Alyssa Hofmann, Delaney Naughton, Kevin McMahan and Chace — have been helping their teammates prepare for the national competition.

“We’re there for a healthy competition so they have someone to face before nationals,” Chace said.

The teams also have been hitting the books to prepare for even harder questions than they faced at the Manatee Bowl with each student specializing in a particular area of study.

“Since this is our first year, we really don’t know what to expect at nationals, but we’re going to try our best,” Pharmer said. “We’re going to try studying more complex topics.”

Woodard sees the two groups continuing to work together as just another example of the friendship that exists between the students.

“They’ve been studying together, being in class together,” she said. “They can finish each other’s sentences. … “It’s a full team effort. That’s why we got first and second.”