Academic Decathlon Victories

Alexis Peterson, Co-Editor

Preble High School’s Academic Decathlon is doing great things! With leadership comprised of Mr. Gordon Kendall and Mrs. Kristin Kreuser, both having years of experience as the team’s advisors, this group is bound for high achievement. The team is comprised of nine students, three in each GPA range category, who compete for the highest scores in quizzing, writing, and public speaking. This knowledge is provided by material given from the United States Academic Decathlon Association.
The Decathlon is comprised of ten events: the quizzes in Literature, Science, Social Studies, Economics, Mathematics, Music, and Art; the speaking events in interviewing, impromptu and prepared speeches; the group Super Quiz; and the essay on the book of choice. It is a very rigorous process that requires an entire day or more to achieve completion of all events, but is rewarding for the true scholar.
This year, the members of this group include the likes of: Abbey Mommaerts (Junior), Adam Brunner (Freshman), Alexis Peterson (Senior), Destiny Peterson (Junior), Kylee Dorner (Junior), Leland Bartikofsky (Senior), Marco Villagomez (Junior), Payton Wartenburg (Sophomore), and Samantha Hoefs (Junior).
They worked rigorously, passing from Locals into Regionals and now to State competition in March. It was not without the moments of struggle- they all had to study the material, read the book, practice and prepare the speeches. Destiny Peterson, one of the Decathletes, adds that, “For me, Academic Decathlon has just been a huge accomplishment. I was so proud to even have been asked to join the team in the first place, but making it to state is phenomenal. The team put so much work into getting there, reading the binder, preparing for speeches, and just showing up for meetings. Being on the team is something I will be proud of forever, and it’s just an amazing team to be apart of.” As a member of the team, I have to incur- this group is an opportunity to grow personally but also improve work ethic.
The team performed very well at the Locals competition, where only subject tests were given. According to previous data, this team performed 1842 points higher than last year’s local team, with a Division Third Place in Economics by Alexis Peterson.
Nevertheless, focused on Coach Kendall’s goal to “Return to Glory”, they continued forward, pursuing further study and preparation for Regionals. Atop the one-hour meetings during the week, the team also studied subjects individually and reread the novel of choice for this year, “Cat’s Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut. This was in preparation for the essay and subject tests provided. Regionals were provided in two separate dates- December 15th, 2020 for the essay portion and January 8th, 2021 for the subject tests.
On January 9th, the results of the scores were released via a live Zoom meet with AcDec coordinators. Preble earned a Second Place in the Region, under 3,000 points from East High School. Atop this, members earned many individual awards. Samantha Hoefs placed Second in Literature, Third in Essay, and Gold in Social Science for her division. Leland placed Second in Literature, Third in Music, Third in Science, First in Art, and Second in Social Science for his division. Alexis placed First in Literature, Music, and Economics, placing Third overall for her division. Payton also placed Third in Math for his division. The results were clearly a product of the hard work on every member’s behalf, as everyone had improved individual scores.
This shows their peers, that, despite the virtual environment, success is possible with clearly defined goals and hard work! Mrs. Kreuser reflects that, “This year has been unlike any other in my coaching experience. We’ve asked students to take on the task of preparing for competition while remaining at home. Though it has been challenging, all 9 students have risen to the occasion. They show up to our virtual meets every week and have gone above and beyond in preparing/studying the material on their own time. I am proud of all of them and am looking forward to the next phase of the season at the state competition in March.”
The team stands in the shadow of previous years, who some of which had gone to Nationals for Academic Decathlon; however, not all years had reached the point of competing in state. Mr. Kendall adds, “This is my 20th year as coach (Mrs. Kreuser is on year 16) and out of those 20 years Preble has won six Regional Championships and advanced to state on a wild card eight additional times. Last year when we did not qualify I was very motivated to ‘RETURN TO GLORY’. I felt I got a bit too complacent and took going to state for granted. I vowed to not make that mistake again. Sam set a school record at regionals in Social Studies. Leland improved his score +923 points from the local competition. Our best category was Social Science and our worst was Science. We are about 2700 points behind East. Our goal is to catch the east. We are ranked #11 going into the state competition and #3 in Division 1.”
It is clear the team has a long way to go, but much optimism is felt from all members. State competition includes all seven subject tests, the essay, the interview, the impromptu, the super quiz, and the prepared speech- yes, all ten events! The team is grinding away, studying subjects independently, uploading study materials weekly, meeting once a week to practice speeches, and another time a week to practice the Super Quiz. Needless to say, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with! Feelings of hopefulness and optimism are thick among the teammates. Everyone feels they have grown, with Sam Hoefs wording it, “With it being my first year in academic decathlon, I really didn’t know what to expect at first. I’m happy to report that it’s an incredibly validating experience. I love how our advisors set difficult goals for us, and I love how we can directly see our work pay off in our performance. My participation has definitely improved my study habits, public speaking, and overall confidence. I’m immensely excited for our team to compete at state, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
I think Sam speaks for all of Preble- we are ready to see what the future of our Academic Decathlon holds.