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Norris Middle School's Rishi Padhy, Jacob Benak, Carson Faulkenburg and Eesha Sohail prepare for their competition during the academic tournament at the 2014 National Science Bowl competition, Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jack Dempsey, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science)

Jacob Benak, an eighth-grader at Norris Middle School, said for local students confidence slowly replaced a rush of adrenaline and nervousness that characterized students in early rounds of the National Science Bowl Saturday in Washington, D.C.

The group -- Jacob, Rishi Padhy, Carson Faulkenburg and Eesha Sohail -- failed to gain enough points to advance to the semi-final level of competition, but both students and coach Andy Stephens said they were happy with their performance.

It was their first time participating in the science bowl.

"I think we did pretty good," Jacob said.

They raced to buzzers to answer questions that fused mathematics, science and reasoning skills and both built and raced cars about 1-foot-long and 5-inches-wide in a separate challenge.

Each student played a different role in the joint academic and engineering contest:

Eesha, who will also be advancing to the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in May, was the high-scorer.

Rishi and Jacob composed an about five-page design document to build the car, and Carson spearheaded engineering.

The Norris students beat three of seven teams in the academic portion of the contest.

Stephens said the middle-schoolers held their own in what was one of the tougher divisions and competed against a team that went undefeated in the first portion of the contest.

He said their success at the regional level and performance in the national competition are a testament to their hard work.

"They're bright, which I had nothing to do with," Stephens said. "They're bright and they're hard-working."