Outside the Central High School East gymnasium Saturday afternoon, it sounded like the final event of the Fresno County Academic Decathlon had been replaced with a pop concert.
Loud cheers and rah-rahing by coaches, competitors and audience members filled the gymnasium with deafening noise during the only event of the decathlon open to the public, the Super Quiz.
“It looks like the Super Bowl did come one day early,” said Robert Perez, principal of Central High, while introducing the Super Quiz. “We could not be more inspired by the decathletes’ determination and intellect.”
Perennial powerhouse University High claimed its fifth county title, beating out 25 other schools to win the 34th annual competition.
The yearly competition is a key battle between University and Edison high schools, the only two to win a county title since 1997. University has won the national small schools Academic Decathlon title for nine years in a row.
Three other Valley counties – Madera, Tulare and Kings – also held their county decathlon Super Quizzes on Saturday. The winners were Lemoore Middle College for Kings County, Chowchilla Union for Madera County – its first win since 1992 – and Granite Hills for Tulare County. Each team will go to Sacramento to compete in the California State Decathlon on March 17-20.
What you’re telling our kids is that academics is important, and that it matters to every student in our county.
Jim Yovino, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools
In the crowd of spectators cheering enthusiastically, the green-and-silver pompoms of around 30 Hoover High cheerleaders stood out among the numerous handmade signs.
During the Super Quiz, each school’s team members were split into one of three groups – varsity, scholastic and honor – based on their grade point average. Varsity team members, or “C” students, competed in the first round, followed by the “B” and “A” students in the next two rounds.
Twelve questions were asked in each round, with team members having 10 seconds to fill in the answer on a multiple-choice answer sheet.
KMPH 26 anchor Rich Rodriguez hosted this year’s Super Quiz. It was his 25th time as the host for Fresno County.
The rapid-fire event keeps the competitors on their toes, said David Magoon, coach of Firebaugh High School’s team.
“It requires quick thinking, because you have to deal with six different (subjects) and so, if you don’t have a lot of preparation time, it’s hard to do well,” Magoon said.
The Firebaugh High team put in months of preparation for the decathlon, Magoon said.
This year’s topic, India, provided the subject matter for many of the 36 Super Quiz questions.
Contestants were asked about Indian music, literature, culture and economics. Additional questions included science, biology and geography.
Team members were able to consult with each other during the questions, which was not allowed in past years, Magoon said.
Jim Yovino, Fresno County Office of Education’s superintendent of schools, believed that the large crowd assembled to watch the Super Quiz sent a strong signal about the importance of academics in Fresno County.
“What you’re telling our kids is that academics is important, and that it matters to every student in our county,” Yovino said.
Academic Decathlons in the Valley
1. University (47,052.2 points): coach Sean Canfield, team members Fayyaz Ahamed, Hanna Anderson, Joshua Stair, Lauren Antt, Lillian Torres, Michael Perales, Michael Seley, Nathaniel Whitaker, Philip Canoza
2. Edison (42,258.3 points)
3. Fowler (38,230.6 points)
4. Bullard (37,076.3 points)
5. Roosevelt (33,937.7 points)
6. Central High (33,269.2 points)
7. Selma (33,150.9 points)
8. Sunnyside (32,880.9 points)
9. Sanger (32,725.6 points)
10. Firebaugh (32,475.4 points)
Super Quiz winner
Dean’s Medalists (highest-scoring students)
1. Fayyaz Ahamed, University (9,257.1 points)
2. Ben Drake, Edison (9,049.7 points)
3. Philip Canoza, University (8,972 points)
Division 1, University High; Division 2, Fowler High; Division 3, Roosevelt High; Division 4, Caruthers High
Most Improved: Sunnyside High
1. Lemoore Middle College (49,392.7 points, coach Allen Tong)
2. Lemoore (34,680.9 points)
3. Corcoran (32,036.1 points)
4. Hanford West (31,070.4 points)
5. Hanford (26,366.2 points)
6. Sierra Pacific (21,387.7 points)
7. Avenal (17,889.3 points)
Super Quiz winner
Lemoore Middle College
Alexandra Osterland, Lemoore Middle College
Top Individual Students by category: Varsity: Ozzy Bellwood, Lemoore Middle; Scholastic: Daniela Garcia, Lemoore Middle; Honors: Alexandra Osterland, Lemoore Middle College
Top Students by high school: Andrea Chaires, Avenal; Morgan Meik, Corcoran; Emma Van Fossen, Hanford; Sara Grever, Hanford West; Jael Millett, Lemoore; Alexandra Osterland, Lemoore Middle College; Rajvarun Grewal, Sierra Pacific.
Top students from each Academic Decathlon category
Language & Literature, music, science, art, economics, social science, interview: Alexandra Osterland, Lemoore Middle
Science: Mitchell Miya, Sierra Pacific
Mathematics: Emma Van Fossen, Hanford High
Economics: Zachary Osterland, Lemoore Middle
Essay: Sara Grever, Hanford West
Speech: Daniela Garcia, Lemoore Middle
Interview: Yehuda Sinaga, Lemoore
1. Chowchilla Union (33,259.4 points): coach Libby Cross, team members Kylie Farmer, Simrandeep Shergill, Skylar Van Buren, Juliann Angel, Nick Burbridge, Caycie Maynard, Amber Appling, Manvir Johal and Christopher Rodriguez
Super Quiz winners (three-way tie)
Chawanakee Academy, Madera South High School, Yosemite High School
Caycie Maynard, Chowchilla Union; Bethany Samarin, Liberty; William Parker, Madera; Gabriela Mendoza, Madera South; Clara Briley, Yosemite
Top decathlete: Caleb Lynch, Chawanakee Academy
Top Overall Team: Granite Hills, 37,704.8 points
Top Scoring Small School: Orosi Team A, 28,566.4 points
Top Scoring Large School: Granite Hills
Super Quiz winner: Orosi Team A
Top Individual Students by category: Honors Student, Daniel Seyedebrahimi, El Diamante; Scholastic Student, Erica Huerta, Granite Hills; Varsity Student, Isaac Flores, Granite Hills
Top students from each competing high school: Isaac Flores, Granite Hills; Jaipaul Bhangu, Dinuba; Isaiah Woodard, Tulare Western; Daniel Seyedebrahimi, El Diamante; Rodney LaFluer, Orosi Team A; Yash Bhakta, Tulare Union; Dominic Phillips, Mission Oak; Jacob Olmos, Harmony Magnet Academy; Andy Garcia, Woodlake.
Top students from each Academic Decathlon category
Art, economics, music, science, social science: Daniel Seyedebrahimi, El Diamante
Literature: Erica Huerta, Granite Hills
Math: Forrest Johnson, El Diamante
Essay: Isaac Flores, Granite Hills
Interview (tie): Isaiah Woodard, Tulare Western, and Andrea Ross, Tulare Union
Speech: Katherine Pfaff, Woodlake
Correction: Organizers on Monday announced the winner of Fresno County’s Division 4 was Caruthers High. Initial results had Washington Union as the Division 4 winner.