Poplarville High School wins Hurricane Bowl

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MOVING ON UP: From left, Kaitlyn Barber, Austin Stampley, Stephen Mitchell, Rob Merrell and Ben Jones of Poplarville High School show off their trophy after winning the Hurricane Bowl. The Fish Fighters will go on to compete in Seattle, Washington Photo submitted

MOVING ON UP: From left, Kaitlyn Barber, Austin Stampley, Stephen Mitchell, Rob Merrell and Ben Jones of Poplarville High School show off their trophy after winning the Hurricane Bowl. The Fish Fighters will go on to compete in Seattle, Washington
Photo submitted

For the second year in a row, the Poplarville High School National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) team, the Fish Fighters, won the Hurricane Bowl and will move on to compete at nationals in Seattle, Washington in May.

Mel Hall, AP Biology teacher at the high school and team coach, said the NOSB is one of the most prestigious academic competitions in the United States. During the competition the team answered questions on a wide range of topics related to oceanography, including topics of laws and history.

Hall said Poplarville High School has had a team compete every year for the past 14 years and this is the sixth time the team has made it to nationals.

Two teams, the A team and B team, competed in different divisions of the competition held on March 7 and 8 at University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

Hall said, as winners of both their divisions, each team gets to participate in a special event as a prize. The A team, along with going to nationals in Seattle, will get to accompany scientists from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory to survey the shark population in the Gulf of Mexico. The B team will go to Alabama to participate in a paleontological dig to explore and discover fossils of ancient organisms, Hall said.

Students start preparing for the NOSB in the summer and have practice three times a week when school is in session, Hall said.

“Success is directly related to the amount of time you’re willing to devote to it,” Hall said.

Students are expected to maintain a high GPA and adhere to additional regulations to keep their place on the team. Hall said it is a yearlong commitment the students make.

Team A members captain Stephen Mitchell, Kaitlyn Barber, Ben Jones, Rob Merrell, and Austin Stampley and Team B members captain Matthew Merrell, Andrew Howard, Daniel Knoll, Cheyenne Spear, and Logan Stines all choose a theme to dress up as each year, Hall said.

He said the tradition began after a former member, Chris Martin, wore a Hawaiian t-shirt to competition. This year members dressed as popular characters from the Mario Bros. video games and last year they dressed as Star Wars characters.

The NOSB is hosted by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership every year and in the past travel to nationals was funded through the competition. Hall said this year due to budget cuts and sequestration, the school had to find their own way to fund the trip.

Fortunately, Hall said, the Fish Fighters were able to obtain private funding to go to Seattle.

Hall said cuts in funding would only hurt the program and the schools who qualify by limiting the funds used to travel to nationals.

“I’m worried about future years and the future of the Ocean Bowl in general”

Hall coaches the team with assistant coach and Poplarville High School Biology teacher, Kim Jackson.