Once again, Chapman University’s food science students reign as the Mountain West region’s champions of
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) College Bowl
. Next stop: Chicago for the
National Competition at the IFT Annual Meeting


From left to right: Tushar Sawant, Shweta Birwadkar, Karina Rodriguez, Jessica Sambuco, Alexa Sarcona, Taylor Patti, Maria Belen Meza

The team just returned from
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
where they competed this weekend and won the regional competition. Next they will be headed to Chicago to represent the Mountain West region at IFT’s Annual Meeting in July. Taylor Patti, undergraduate member of the team, said that “the tournament itself provided me with scores of opportunities to exercise and hone my science knowledge in a competitive environment.”

Despite their substantial academic workloads, with the extraordinary help of faculty advisor Dr. Lilian Were, the team managed to keep up with their regular study sessions for this competition. In the end, the efforts paid off and the team is “very honored to represent our region at the National IFTSA College Bowl Competition in Chicago,” beamed Tushar Sawant.

IFT College Bowl
is designed to facilitate interaction among students from different universities, stimulate the students’ desire to accumulate and retain knowledge, and provide a forum for students to engage in friendly competition. Teams for IFT Student Chapters in eight geographical areas of the Student Association compete in area competitions prior to the IFT Annual Meeting. The winning teams from the eight areas then compete in a final competition at the Annual Meeting.

The Competition


As the final scoreboard indicates, the team started off playing
Cal State LA
, where they had their largest point difference of the day. “This helped get the team’s momentum going and every teammate answered several questions,” said team captain Jessica Sambuco.

In the second round against
Cal Poly Pomona
, the team won.

During the third round, Chapman faced its toughest competition:
Brigham Young University
(BYU). “The third round was absolutely nail biting! I actually prayed for our team, and I haven’t prayed that hard since I was 12!” said team member Karina Rodriguez. For that entire round, both teams were tied. After the final bonus question, the teams entered a three-question tie-breaker round, where BYU won the third tie-breaker question.

After facing BYU, Chapman had lost one round where BYU were undefeated. In order to win the regional competition, Chapman had to beat Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (SLO), followed by BYU, twice in a row. The Panthers defeated SLO 24-10 and immediately played BYU twice back-to-back.

Facing Their Toughest Competitor

“When BYU beat us the round before lunch, we felt down, but not defeated. The little time we had during lunch we studied more. Those of us in the audience cheered for those in front even harder to increase their spirits” said Rodriguez.

In the semi-finals against BYU, the Chapman students’ hard work and strong spirit prevailed and they defeated their competitor 30-2.


Team Captain: Jessica Sambuco

However, in the final round, the scores were much closer: BYU was leading 12-6. Chapman needed to get both the toss-up question and the bonus question correct in order to win. Midway through the toss-up question being asked, Chapman team captain Jessica Sambuco answered correctly giving her team the bonus question- which they knew, of course! From there, Chapman proceeded to take home the regional title 14-12.

Rodriguez described the scene: “At first, the score was -6 for Chapman for the last round, but we literally rose from the ashes and were able to come out victorious! We all ran down there and just felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and we were all trying very hard not to cry.” The IFT College Bowl, though filled with some tough competition, brought a great sense of camaraderie, fun, and accomplishment for our participants! “I am very happy that I participated in the College Bowl. That was an amazing experience. And this would have not happened without support of the Chapman food science faculty,” said team member Shweta Birwadkar.

Big congratulations and thanks to Dr. Lilian Were and our awesome team for working so hard together to bring home another win.

However, the IFT College Bowl isn’t over yet! The next stop will be in Chicago to represent the Mountain West region in July. The competitors will be announced at the end of April once all the regions are done with their competitions. Due to the early date of Chapman’s regional competition, the team have plenty of time to practice for the nationals. Whoever can help them prepare in the next couple of months, your help will be much appreciated!