Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Two California teams advance to national academic decathlon

-- Rick Rojas, LA times |

March 17, 2013 |  1:09 pm  ::  For the first time, two Academic Decathlon teams from California will proceed to the national competition, setting the stage for a showdown between former national title winners from Los Angeles Unified.

Granada Hills Charter High School -- the winner at nationals the last two years -- took first place Sunday in the state competition held this weekend in Sacramento, the team's third consecutive win here. The team scored 56,165 points.

El Camino Real High School took second place, scoring 55,669 points. The team also has been invited to the national competition in the first year that more than one team from a state has been allowed to proceed.

The national contest will be held in Minneapolis on April 25-27.

The top five spots in the state competition were claimed by Los Angeles County schools. Franklin, Marshall and Beverly Hills high schools took third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Los Angeles County, including schools from L.A. Unified and from other districts in the county, sent 18 teams to Sacramento to be among the 61 teams from across the state participating.

The competition began Friday and included rigorous testing in such subjects as math, science, art, music and economics, as well giving speeches and being interviewed by judges.

Granada Hills three-peats as California Academic Decathlon champ

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, Daily News |

3/17/2013 | 08:24:21 PM PDT  ::  SACRAMENTO - Granada Hills Charter won its third consecutive California Academic Decathlon title on Sunday, giving the nine-member team the chance to try for a three-peat as defending U.S. champions.

El Camino Real Charter came in second and, thanks to a change in the rules, will also be competing next month at the national championship in Minneapolis. El Camino is a decathlon powerhouse, with nine state and six national titles to its credit.

After congratulating one another at the awards ceremony at the Memorial Coliseum  Auditorium in Sacramento, the coaches of Granada and El Camino conceded that the presence of the other will ratchet up the level of competition in the battle for the national title.

"This will add to our own level of stress," said Matt Arnold, who with Spencer Wolf and Nick Weber has coached Granada Hills to three state and two national championships.

Stephanie Franklin, El Camino's coach, said the competition at the state level has historically been more difficult than the national contest.

"It was always a relief to get through California," said Franklin, who helped lead the team to its national title in 2010. "Now, we'll have to do it again."

The awards ceremony capped the rigorous two-day competition in which the decathletes took exams, gave speeches, participated in interviews and competed in the fast-paced Super Quiz.

Los Angeles Unified schools took the top four spots, with Granada scoring 51,590 points out of 60,000 in the 10 academic subjects, which this year centered on the theme of Russia. El Camino earned 51,094 points, followed by 49,731 for Franklin and 49,298 for Marshall.

With its showing, Franklin qualified to compete in the national online decathlon.

LAUSD also sent six other teams to the state finals: Bell High, which came in 14th, Garfield at No. 20, Hamilton in 25th , Francis Polytechnic in 41st place, Narbonne at No. 43 and North Hollywood in 45th.

Among neighboring schools, Burbank High came in 15th, Bishop Alemeny was 19th, West High in Torrance was 22nd, and Redondo Union was 29th. Westlake High School in Ventura County finished 31st.

The team from Chaffey High in Bernardino County came in seventh, fulfilling its goal of finishing in the top 10. Chaffey also was honored as one of the most-improved teams.

The winners were announced during a boisterous awards ceremony at Sacramento's historic Memorial Auditorium, with decathletes cheering their teammates - and their rivals - as individual awards were announced and medals distributed.

Granada High's Jae Kyung Chong earned a standing ovation as the competition's leading scorer, racking up 8,930 out of a possible 10,000 points. Other members of the Granada team are Beung Woo Baek, Beatrice Dimaunahan, Faria Ghori, Dayoung Kim, Kailin Li, Kimberly Ly, Mieelye Ma and Hamidah Mahmud.

Representing El Camino are Jenny Chi, Ranbir Dhillon, Peter Do, Jacob Hehir, Brennan Lincoln, Melissa Ngu, Tyler Wong, Johnathan Yih and Julian Zano.

Granada's win as defending champions drew thunderous applause from the crowd, prompting Beatrice Dimaunahan to break down in tears as she stood on the stage, before joining her teammates in a group hug.

"It's just so amazing," she said a few minutes later, still dabbing at tears. "We've been working so hard and my team is just so amazing and so cohesive. I knew we had a chance at winning, but it's still hard to believe that we did it."

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