The trophy is back.
On Saturday, Feb. 3 the Oakdale High School Academic Decathlon team made sure to respond properly to their 852-point loss against the Hughson Huskies in 2017 and they answered loudly. That 2017 upset ended a 16-year winning streak and placed the OHS team in the unfamiliar seat of first runner up.
But this year … the decathletes were hungry.
A final score of 45,594 points compared to Hughson’s 40,902 left little question as to which campus was most deserving of the 2018 Academic Decathlon title. Hosting school Ceres High earned a respectable third place with 39,638 points. The OHS team will now advance to represent Stanislaus County at the state level in Sacramento on March 23 and 24.
“Normally when we hear who the third place winners are and second place winners we kind of know, oh … okay we’re first,” OHS Aca Dec Coach Dee Hawksworth said. “This year we didn’t want to jump the gun. We didn’t know.”
The team noted the Super Quiz Winners, a tie between Ceres High and Enochs High, as a notable curve for the uncertainty of who the overall winning team might be. Yet the OHS team had many respectable wins including a total of 72 medals amongst the competing team, as well as alternates. Other honors included: First Place Scholastic Champion Jude Markel and Alternate Team Champion Ryan Kummer. Markel, a veteran member of the competing team also medaled in every event, taking home a total of 10 medals. Complete listing of medalists by category and name will appear in the Feb. 14 issue of The Oakdale Leader.
“To see all the students winning all the medals in all the categories,” OHS Vice Principal Joni McGinnis shared of her first time Aca Dec experience, “it was just amazing to be a part of.”
Given the closeness of last year’s defeat compared to this year’s victory, the decathletes, as well as Coach Hawksworth attribute a large part of the shift to the strength of the Varsity Team. Varsity Team members are Michael Oliver, Michael Dunn and Olin Yost.
“Our two new varsity people helped a lot,” Hawksworth said of Dunn and Oliver, “and Olin doubled his scores. So Varsity really picked up the pace. Scholastic was strong throughout, not just Jude but all three of them were strong and Honors was just solid.”
“I had a lot of self-doubts at first,” first timer Michael Dunn shared. “But once we got into it and really started competing, I felt good about it.”
The majority of the competing team members confessed to nerves and anxiousness Saturday morning before the start of the event. With only two veteran competing team members and a deep seated desire to bring back the bling, it was to be expected.
“Waiting and thinking we’re either first or fourth,” Yost said of nervousness, awaiting the announcement.
And then the announcement was made. As the team rejoiced, some screamed, others high fived, while a handful choked back emotion while savoring the redemption.
Hawksworth shared she likes to give the team a little time to revel in the victory before reviewing notes and re-setting the focus to state competition.
As for the 17th win in 18 years, the coach stated, “You know, I’m okay with this being the start of a new streak.”
And so it begins…