State Decathlon finals put Valley schools to test

SACRAMENTO -- In the hallway of Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium on Sunday, students from Fresno's Edison High School waited anxiously for the start of the Super Quiz -- the culmination of this weekend's California Academic Decathlon State Championship.

"I'm extremely nervous," said Liliana Samano, a 17-year-old senior, who was competing in her second state showdown.

Edison had won the county competition 16 of the past 18 years, but this year finished second to University High School.

Going into the state finals, Edison was ranked in fifth place and University in third place among 62 top-tier schools from across the state.

"I feel there's more pressure this year because we lost to University," Samano said. "It's redemption."

Final scores and winners will be announced this morning.

Along with 60 other teams, the University and Edison teams marched into Memorial Auditorium's grand hall Sunday for the Super Quiz.

Students sat in rows on the auditorium's floor.

Emcees George Warren and Sharon Ito, from Sacramento's News10, read the multiple-choice questions.

Students had just seven seconds to mark an answer before Ito told them to stop and lift their pencils.

Hundreds of fans cheered from the balconies.

The theme of this year's contest was the French Revolution.

The first-round questions, which are supposed to be easier, included a mind-bender about how France's nobles viewed King Louis XVI's controller-general, Charles Alexandre de Calonne.

The answer: They mistrusted him and saw him as fiscally irresponsible.

And this one: What 18th century event was followed with interest in France because it put Enlightenment ideals into practice in a natural way?

Answer: The American War of Independence.

Mackenzie Steed, an 18-year-old senior from Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks, said she got the Revolutionary War question right but missed the one about the French controller-general.

"I felt a little rusty," she said.

The winner will represent California in the national championships. Teams from California have won the national title each of the past seven years.

More than 500 students competed in the weekend's contests in art, math, literature and other subjects.

Among other Fresno County schools competing were Hallmark Charter School and Bullard High School.

Yosemite High School from Madera County, Corcoran High School from Kings County and Granite Hills High School from Tulare County also had teams in the state championships.

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