22 high schools in Riverside County participated in the 34th annual Riverside County Academic Decathlon at Beaumont High
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
When you hear the term “academic decathlon,” do you imagine a total snooze fest? Well, wake up! Local high schoolers actually get excited for the county-wide competition, where bright brains and teen angst collide!
Hundreds of people packed Beaumont High School’s gym to watch the Super Quiz component and grand finale of the 2017 Academic Decathlon…the only phase of the competition that was open to the public.
All the major high schools in the valley were represented at this year’s decathlon and were put through their paces in seven written tests, essay writing, delivering a prepared speech (and one spur-of-the-moment speech), and participating in an interview. But all that occurred behind closed doors, keeping distraction out and integrity in. But it’s just as well, because the real excitement built up for the Super Quiz on Feb 4.
Each of the 22 high schools involved rotated teams of two or three students, each in “Honor,” “Scholastic” and “Varsity” categories. Each team took on 12 questions asked by event host Steve Hovey. The goal: to select the right multiple choice answer in just 10 seconds. One might think this was a Hollywood game show based on the audience cheers when their students answered correctly!
The West Valley Mustangs outran their competition in the Super Quiz, much to the delight of those Mustang fans who made the trek to Cherry Valley (BHS is technically in the outlying community on Beaumont’s north side). Elsinore’s Tigers showed their stripes to come in second, with the Hemet Bulldogs nipping at their tails, taking third place.
The final overall results are as follows: Hemet High took bronze, and the West Valley Mustangs, last year’s champions, took silver. But this year’s winners, edging out the San Jacinto Valley for the first time in more than 10 years, were the Elsinore Tigers.
Hemet High Coach Rebecca Shawver and West Valley Coach Timm Hannem actually have a Decathlon relationship that goes back a long way, according to Shawver, who admits she has high standards.
“I personally have a reputation for being a bit of a slave-driver, for lack of a better word/phrase. And I have had Tim Hannem (WVHS coach) as a student in the past, so he basically knew what I was about as a coach,” said Shawver. “Tim was a very driven student who grew up to be on the West Valley team a few years after I had him in class. As a student, he and his teammates–many of whom were in the same class of mine as Tim was–took second place to my team at HHS (~2004-ish). I am sure that once Tim heard I was back, he stepped up his game and did an awesome job. Unfortunately for both of our teams, so did Elsinore!”
Shawver recognizes Bulldogs Michael McGivney and Kelcey Brown-Meacham for doing such a great job encouraging their teammates and their performance.
West Valley Coach Timm Hannem was humbled for his team to come second behind Elsinore.
“I was impressed by Elsinore High School’s team this year,” said Hannem. “Their coach, Ryan Klopp, has been furiously developing his program for 12 years now, and it’s nice to finally see them earn their long overdue victory.”
Hannem says his whole team, comprised of Elisha Dayag, Jaiden Heggins, Isabel Michel, Christina Muoio, Cooper Smith, Douglas Swayne, Lauren Trevino and Erin Valenzuela, deserve the credit.
Only time will tell how our local decathlon students will do next year. But one thing’s for certain: Elsinore Tigers, you had better kill it in Sacramento during the week of March 23! All of Riverside County is on your shoulders now.