Olathe North High School
|Member of SO since|
|Best finish, regionals||1st|
|Best finish, state||1st, 2012-2017|
|Best finish, nationals||22nd, 2014|
Olathe North High School is the oldest of the four Olathe, Kansas high schools and competes in the Northeast Kansas region for Division C. Olathe North consistently ranks as one of the stronger teams in the state of Kansas. Its highest placement at the state tournament prior to 2012 was first place in the large school division in 2009, but they did not finish in the top two overall that year to go to nationals.
The 2011 competition year brought some changes to Olathe North, including the addition of freshmen in the building (previously, freshmen were educated at the Olathe junior high schools) as well as a new coach. This brought massive turnover to the team. Only a handful of students from previous years tried out for the team, and just a few of those made the final 15. Viewed as a rebuilding year inside the team, North finished in 4th place at the state tournament- an improvement from 2010, but still below their recent peak performance in 2009.
For a rebuilding year, the 4th place finish was a somewhat impressive feat, setting the team up for more success in the near future. The quick turnaround can be attributed to the feeder schools for Olathe North. Oregon Trail (3rd in Kansas in 2010) feeds directly into North, while students at California Trail (perennial Kansas state champions) have the option of transferring to North for certain programs, particularly the Distinguished Scholars Science program. Both schools provided North with a strong sophomore class in 2011, generating the core of the team for the next three years.
In 2012, North kicked their competition season to another level, adding multiple invitationals to their schedules. These tournaments included the first-ever out-of-state invitational for a school in the Olathe district (Greenhill) and a trip west to Wichita (Kapaun).
Despite the added practice, local rival St. James Academy continued to outpace North through the Northeast Kansas regional tournament. However, an impressive performance at the state tournament (including eight first-place medals and 15 medals overall) allowed them to squeak past St. James at the wire and earn their first-ever national berth.
At the 2012 National Tournament, Olathe North finished in 30th place, the highest finish by a Kansas C school in five years. Build events had the most success, with team members earning a 6th place medal in Gravity Vehicle and a silver medal in Sounds of Music.
No seniors were on the 2012 team. In addition to the original core of the rebuild (now juniors), a very strong class of freshmen entered Olathe North. These students have qualified for the national tournament in each of their years at North (as of 2014).
2013 was the high watermark of Olathe North's in-state history. The team did not participate in as many invitationals as it did in 2012, but thanks to a well-experienced group of seniors and a talented set of underclassmen, the team blazed their way to a strong finish.
As late as the Thunder Invitational near the end of January, North was nearly 50 points behind another strong St. James team. Then, at the Northeast Kansas regional competition, the floodgates opened. Olathe North medalled in all 23 events and recorded a score below 50, taking first place.
At the state tournament, North continued its dominance, finishing in 7th place or higher in each event, and medalling in 20 of the 23. Olathe North's final score of 68 set a new state record as the lowest score ever recorded at the Kansas state tournament in either division. The record was maintained for 5 years before being broken in 2018.
Even after the original core of the rebuild graduated (two days after the 2013 National Tournament), Olathe North continued its success. A new coach took the reins, and won one of the coaching awards at the 2014 National Tournament. The team qualified for that tournament on the back of another strong performance at the state tournament, earning seven gold medals (five true golds) and posting a score of 103.
The following B Division schools feed directly into Olathe North:
Other middle schools in the Olathe school district feed into different high schools, but students may choose to transfer to Olathe North because of the wealth of special programs offered at the school. In the science fields, these include programs in animal science, health science, geoscience, and sports medicine, as well as a specialized general science content area within the bounds of the Distinguished Scholars program. California Trail Middle School and Frontier Trail Middle School are the primary contributors to the Science Olympiad team among transfer schools.
1: The old scoring system was used in this competition.