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Champions, Again! - OHS Claims Academic Decathlon Title
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Oakdale High clinched its 15th title as the Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon winners on Saturday, Feb. 7. The team surpassed 12 other county high schools competing in what is known as one of the biggest academic events for the local high schools. - photo by Teresa Hammond/The Leader


Braun and brains might be the best description for the out of towner reviewing the successes of Oakdale High School’s student body and its alum.

Yet, on Saturday, Feb. 7, the 35 member Academic Decathlon team demonstrated what community members know most about their youth … focus, perseverance, good sportsmanship, with a good dose of energy and fun.

For the 15th consecutive year, the OHS Aca Dec team earned the coveted trophy as the overall winner of the 35th Annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon. Overall High Score by Division was also dominated by the OHS team with individual trophies going to Eva Galindo, Varsity; Caitlin Golding, Scholastic and Taryn Lane, Honors. Top Alternate winner was Rachelle Pabalan. OHS earned the top spot in the ever popular Super Quiz as well. Overall, Oakdale brought home 83 medals, as well as multiple individual trophies.

The team of 35 knew what they were up against as the two-day academic event began on Friday. The legacy of OHS is that Mustang academic teams are known as the Academic Decathlon dominators, yet this year’s team members approached the event humble, but optimistic. They had done the work. They were prepared for the theme, “New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.” The question would be, how prepared were the other 12 Aca Dec teams from throughout Stanislaus County?

Well prepared, most of them, but not enough to stop Oakdale’s record reign at the top.

With awards and honors being handed out at the Modesto High School gymnasium on Saturday afternoon following the close of competition, County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon served as emcee.

As top five awards were called by category for Alternates; Honors, 3.75-4.00 GPA; Scholastic, 3.00-3.74 GPA; and Varsity, up to a 2.99 GPA, Changnon made note of the energy level filling the gymnasium. The crowd and students responded with foot stomping and cheers as they awaited the results.

Changnon also requested that coaches of the various teams stand for acknowledgement stating, “We are in awe of the love you have for your students.”

Overall Honors winner and OHS sophomore Taryn Lane was excited for herself and her team.

“I’m just glad that I did well,” Lane said following the 15th year championship announcement for the OHS participants. “I’m feeling relieved. I’m so happy for Oakdale. This just feels amazing.”

In her second year as a Competing Team member, the sophomore earned a total of nine medals with a total score of 8,517.10. A number Changnon noted was close to the all-time high scoring record, also held by an OHS alum.

“I wasn’t expecting to medal in Speech,” she admitted, noting her Gold medal achievement.

“I’m just ecstatic right now,” OHS senior Eva Galindo said of the overall event. “I can say, I did my job and I did what I was supposed to do. I didn’t think Math was going to be my forte and I earned Gold.”

Other students were just as excited about the weekend outcome.

“I’m very happy we were able to keep up the tradition,” senior Ashley Caron said of bringing the championship trophy back to OHS. “I feel very happy that I was able to end my Aca Dec career on a high.”

“I’m really proud,” Aca Dec Coach Linda Dodge stated of the team’s big win.

Now in her fourth year of coaching the team, she recognized that the other 12 schools are bringing their scores up, giving Oakdale a bit of a run for their money.

“The gap is definitely closing,” she said. “Ceres and Beyer and apparently Denair are gaining on us. Their scores are consistently improving.

“I was a nervous wreck during Super Quiz. It was definitely nerve wracking.”

In overall awards, Second Place went to Ceres High, Third to Denair, Challenge Cup to Beyer High and Most Improved Team was earned by Enochs High.

“I’m feeling pretty happy and pretty excited,” Varsity team member and senior Connie Speer said. “I’m looking forward to state.”

As the Championship team for Stanislaus County, the OHS Aca Dec team will now continue on, to compete at the California Academic Decathlon State Finals in Sacramento, March 19 through 22.

“We’re always on the lookout for more team members,” Dodge said of maintaining a strong and academically balanced team, noting that the team is comprised of all GPA levels (as noted by categories) not just the 4.00 and up student.

“I’m just really proud of the kids,” the coach added of the overall achievement. “They’re the ones that do the hard work. Now, we get ready for state.”


Look for a full listing of individual team member results in the Feb. 18 issue of The Leader.