Valley students shine at decathlon

Hemet, West Valley once again place among the top five schools in the 2019 Riverside County Academic Decathlon

Photos by Corey Evan
Of all the Valley teams in this year’s decathlon, West Valley were the top performers, being bested only by Elsinore.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

The brain is a miraculous instrument, capable of envisioning tomorrow and dominating today. And to dominate was a goal shared by 19 teams, representing 17 high schools across the county as they entered the 36th Annual Riverside County Academic Decathlon. These teams start in the summer and train for months to endure written and verbal challenges that test what you know and what you decide to say.
The two schools with two teams each in this year’s Decathlon were Beaumont (Divided into ‘Blue’ and ‘White’ teams), and Hemet (Divided into ‘Red’ and ‘Gold’ teams). Tahquitz, a previous decathlon participant, did not enter this year as the school channeled resources towards their mock trial team.
The material in this year’s decathlon was centered around the 1960s, as this year’s Decathlon was “The 1960s: A Transformational Decade.”After ten written and verbal exams spanning the last week of January into the first of February, they would endure one more challenge before a live audience: The Super Quiz. On Saturday, Feb. 2, Vista Del Lago High School in Moreno Valley played host to this year’s Super Quiz, as well as the Ice Cream Social and Awards Ceremony which followed.

The Hemet Bulldogs once again place in the top five.

During Saturday’s events, Riverside County Office of Education Communications Director Peter Daniels spoke to The Valley Chronicle. Daniels was feeling nostalgic with this year’s theme: “That probably feels very historical to (the participants), but for many of us it’s probably things we still remember!”
Daniels went on to talk about the energy these teams and their coaches brought to Vista del Lago: “I think our students and their coaches have worked very hard to bring their ‘A’ game today, and so there’s a lot of excitement.”
Their “A” game would be needed as last time Riverside County went to the Nationals, according to Daniels, fifth overall was the result.
Conducting this year’s Super Quiz, for the eighth time was Quizmaster Steve Hovey: “I enjoy it a great deal; It’s enjoyable to be able to participate and see the excitement the students have.”
Altura Credit Union helped coordinate volunteers and proctors this year, ensuring smooth and secure recording of data. Once the numbers were crunched, as participants and spectators enjoyed free ice cream, participants took to the Raven Auditorium for the awarding of accolades.
Bringing back medals to the San Jacinto Valley were these “groovy” quiz brains:

Interview
Varsity Division: Bronze – Andres Ruiz, Hemet
Scholastic Division: Silver – Samantha Gala, West Valley
Honors Division: Bronze – Sophia Cabrera, San Jacinto & Zachary Weber, Hemet

Mathematics
Varsity: Silver – Cheridan Kelly, West Valley

Music (specialty being 60s music)
Varsity: Bronze – Emily Sohn, Hemet. Silver – Erin Obmina-Josue, Hemet
Scholastic: Bronze – Natalia Apffel & Kyle Knaper, Hemet. Silver – Linda Utz, San Jacinto. Gold – Samantha Glaha, West Valley
Honors: Bronze – Zachary Weber, Hemet. Gold – Pamela Jansen, West Valley

Science (spec. being Laser technology)
Varsity: Bronze – Zachary Nelson, Hemet
Honors: Bronze – Pamela Jansen, West Valley

Literature (critical reading)
Varsity: Silver – Emily Sohn, Hemet. Gold – Adrianna Elizalde, San Jacinto.
Scholastic: Silver – Linda Utz, San Jacinto. Gold – Natalia Apffel, Hemet.
Economics (incl. micro/macro and 60’s economy)
Varsity: Bronze – Cheridan Kelly, West Valley. Silver – Samantha Gala, West Valley & Chloe Sutliff, Hemet

Art (Incl. 60s art, minimalism and post-minimalism)
Varsity: Silver – Nayely Plascencia & Linda Utz, San Jacinto
Scholastic: Bronze – Samantha Glaha, West Valley. Silver – Cynthia Platt, San Jacinto
Honors: Silver – Pamela Jansen, West Valley

Essay
Varsity: Bronze – Adrianna Elizalde, San Jacinto. Silver – Nayely Plascencia, San Jacinto.
Scholastic: Silver – Christina Stave, West Valley
Honors: Gold – Fernando Meza, West Valley.

Speech (Four minute formal, two minute impromptu)
Scholastic: Bronze – Christina Stave, West Valley. Silver – Samantha Gala, West Valley.
Honors: Bronze – Catherine Moua, San Jacinto. Gold – Fernando Meza, West Valley.

Super Quiz top five awards
5th: Beaumont High School (Blue Team)
4th: West Valley
3rd: Hemet (Gold Team)
2nd: Corona
1st: Elsinore

The top five teams in this year’s decathlon were
5th: Beaumont (Blue Team)
4th: Corona
3rd: Hemet (Gold Team)
2nd: West Valley

The 2019 winners, who will represent Riverside County in the State Decathlon: Elsinore.
Despite not winning, our local Decathlon coaches are still proud of our local quiz brains:
“I’m very proud of them, they did very well,” said Hemet High Coach Rex McDonald about both his Red and Gold Bulldogs. “It’s been a good group all year long, they gotten along all season long and it’s made it easy on me for that reason.”

The San Jacinto teams await the Super Quiz on Saturday.

“I am hugely, hugely proud of them!” exclaimed San Jacinto Coach Bethany Gibson when asked about her Tigers. “It’s always a very tense weeks and months leading up to it, especially right before the actual competition; It feels like a coin-toss.” Gibson says a lot of dedication, determination and sweat went into preparing her Tigers. “And too much pizza.”
West Valley Coach Rawan Moser had no shortage of good things to say about her Mustangs: “I’m extremely proud of their efforts, extremely proud of their hard work, dedication, tenacity… I couldn’t be happier.” Coach William Valenzuela echoed that sentiment: “This is the most fun I’ve ever head coaching Academic Decathlon, and I love the team and the team is terrific… I hope they had a great time, ‘cause they certainly put in enough time to be great.”
Elsinore will now prepare to go to Sacramento on March, 22 and 23 for the California Academic Decathlon, hoping to advance to the Nationals in Bloomington, Minnesota on April 25, 26 and 27. To help them arrive in Sacramento safely, the RCOE provides a $1000 stipend to help with transportation, lodging and food costs.
Hovey is happy for the Elsinore Tigers to go to Sacramento because, “It’s one good thing happening in Sacramento!”
And it goes without saying that this valley should be proud of our local quiz brains for going to the county Decathlon, win or lose. Keep up with the Decathlon on all social media using the hashtag #AcaDecRivCo.
Future Decathlon volunteers are encouraged to visit www.rcoe.us for complete details. And to those who have never been to a Super Quiz, it’s open to the public every year.

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