Some watching the Super Quiz of the Fresno County Academic Decathlon compared it to the Super Bowl. Football fans should hope today's game matches the intensity of competition seen Saturday afternoon in the Central High School East Campus gym.
University High successfully defended its county championship, pulling away from Edison in the final Super Quiz competition.
Before the 23 Fresno County teams got to the finish, they enjoyed a raucous start.
Each team parading into the gym (much like opening ceremonies of an Olympics) was greeted by its school's cheering section.
Reedley supporters waved pirate flags (the school's mascot), posters representing most of the schools were pinned on the gym's walls and one young University High fan even attempted to play a bagpipe.
"It feels exciting," said Washington Union senior Matthew Hartwig just before entering the gym to compete.
"It's our last chance to show how much we've learned."
The largest group of supporters and loudest cheer came from University High students, many in school colors (red, gold and black) and some wearing face paint.
During each round of the competition, a roar rippled through the gym as each school's scores were raised by proctors after correct answers were tallied.
The hundreds of hours of preparation for each student boiled down to mere seconds ticking away on a big screen in which an answer had to be chosen.
After the final round, family members and students hugged and took pictures until an announcement of the unofficial score sent the University High competitors jumping into each other's arms.
It was difficult for University High senior Richard Martinez III, with friends jumping on him in celebration, to say more than one word at a time to describe how he felt about the win.
"Amazing," Martinez said. "Perfect. Complete. Done."
Fellow University High senior Noah Priester reflected on what the win meant while a friend stood next to him holding a banner that, when unfurled, read "Noah" in large letters.
"It's been the culmination of all our work," Priester said. "It really is a team event and that's what separates us; we have the best teammates."
The official numbers were announced later in the evening during an awards ceremony. University High also won the Super Quiz, with two of the school's team members -- Christopher Gu and Rosamond Herling -- posting the competition's top scores.
The next step for the top teams is the California Academic Decathlon in Sacramento March 15-17. State champions advance to the National Decathlon in Minneapolis in April.
University High has won six straight national small schools titles.
"In some ways we're just getting warmed up," University High coach Sean Canfield said. "We hope to be together until the end of April."
Other Valley winners
Harmony Magnet School in Strathmore won the Tulare County competition Saturday, Yosemite High won the Madera County competition and Lemoore Middle College High won the Kings County competition.
Academic Decathlon results
Overall Top 10
1. University High: 50,629.6 points
(Team members: Adam Cooke 6,523.3, Angel Elizondo 7,938.4, Christopher Gu 8,621.6, Eric Zamora 6,440.6, Noah Priester 5,930.2, Omoshola Aleru 7,478.6, Richard Martinez III 7,330, Rosamond Herling 8,512.4, Samuel Barretto 8,113.7)
2. Edison: 48,742.2
3. Bullard: 40,291.5
4. Central: 37,902.1
5. Fowler:: 36,806.3
6. Washington Union: 34,565.8
7. Firebaugh: 33,715.8
8. Sanger: 33,350
9. Clovis North: 32,821.2
10. Roosevelt: 32,478.6
Division winners: 1, University; 2, Fowler; 3, Clovis North; 4, San Joaquin Memorial High, 31,529.1
Most improved team: Cambridge High
Super Quiz top 5: University, 4,050; Edison, 3,825; Bullard, 3,075; Firebaugh, 2,925; Fowler 2,850
Deans medalists (highest-scoring students): Christopher Gu, University, 8,621.6; Rosamond Herling, University, 8,512.4; Thomas Moore, Edison, 8,333.7
Overall winner: Lemoore Middle College, 35,869
Top decathlete: Isabela Diaz, Lemoore Middle College
Overall winner: Yosemite, 33,880
Top decathlete: Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy, 6,223.7
Overall winner: Harmony Magnet Academy, Strathmore, 33,298
Large school winner: Redwood, 32,965
(County Academic Decathlon recaps submitted by county offices of education.)