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Hard work paid off for students at Legacy High School and Wachter Middle School.

The two teams won the North Dakota Science Olympiad State Tournament last weekend and are now bound for the national competition, which is scheduled to take place May 31 to June 1 in New York.

This is the first state title in Science Olympiad for Legacy, according to science teacher Mike Walz, who coaches the school's team.

Since October, his team has met at least four times a week — even Saturdays — for three hours a day to prepare for the state tournament and now meet more frequently to prepare for nationals.

Walz, who previously taught for 10 years at Century High School and coached the school's Science Olympiad team, said the group of students this year were the youngest he's coached and competed at state.

"In the past years, I've had many students that are dedicated, committed and willing to work hard for so long, and kids that are brilliant. But I've never had a team that has so many kids like that," he said.

Science Olympiad competitions are extensive academic contests that take place across the country leading up to the national tournament. Last year, more than 7,800 school participated in Science Olympiad tournaments, according to the organization's website.

The competitions include a series of team events that incorporate the various science disciplines of biology, earth science, chemistry, physics and technology.

Walz said the competitions are like a track meet, in which scores are compiled at the end of the event for a total team score.

In addition to having a dedicated team of students, Walz said his team has also had many other people help and support them, including other teachers, parents and former Science Olympiad students.

"It's been a lot of people helping support the kids," he said.

Wachter Middle School's Science Olympiad team also proceeds to nationals to compete in the Division B (middle school) competition. The team is coached by Ben Schiermeister, Wade Curren, Jeanne Metzger, Logan McCleary and Kathy Duttenhefner.

The Science Olympiad was founded in 1984, and this year marks the 35th anniversary, according to its website. This year, more than 2,000 students will compete at the national tournament, which will be held at Cornell University.

Both schools' teams are fundraising to cover expenses of the trip. Legacy's GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/lhs-science-olympiad. Wachter's GoFundMe page is www.gofundme.com/wachter-science-olympiad-national-tournament-trip.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter