They are one of the most dominant high school teams in the state, reaching the national finals nine times since 2001.

And while Stockdale High School's National Science Bowl teams have never won the national championship, the 2014 edition will return to Washington, D.C. in April to try again.

Stockdale teams took the top three spots at this past weekend's regional finals at Cal State Bakersfield. The winning Red team of four seniors and a sophomore, beat the Blue team of three juniors and two seniors. The all-sophomore green team finished third.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Bowl competition attracts more than 14,000 students annually.

The fast-paced question-and-answer format requires students to solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, physics and math.

Chemistry teachers Stacy Baehr and Tahira Mohammed have coached the team for at least the past 15 years, and were joined this year by biology teacher Kirsten Haccou.

Between 50 and 60 high school teams advance to the nationals; another 50 middle school teams also compete in a separate category.

The DOE pays all the expenses of competing students and one coach.

Stockdale's highest finish at the finals was 13th in 2002.

Students tried out for the teams at the beginning of the schoolyear. After cuts, practice began in September. While some of the competition's material is taught in class, much is not.

"The kids really have to put in a lot of work on their own," Baehr said.

Red team members are seniors Edward Camp, Hassan Khan, Michael Ko, and Abhishek Kylasa, and sophomore Bethany Xu.

The National Finals take place April 24-28.