EAST SETUAKET - The defending state Science Olympiad champions from Ward Melville High School say they have been barred from this year’s competition over a late payment from the school.

A snow delay prevented their registration check from getting to officials by the deadline.

The students say they were not aware that the check had not arrived, claiming that the Olympiad director only left a message for a retired teacher and didn’t call anyone else until after the deadline.

Students and teachers told News 12 they are extremely disappointed.

“The punishment doesn't fit the situation,” says Mark Suesser, Ward Melville’s Science Olympiad coach. “Being eliminated from a competition for not getting some paperwork in…[they] really shouldn't penalize all the kids this way.”

The students started a petition to change the rules and are still preparing with the hope they will be allowed to compete.