Casa Grande's AcDec does it again
Published: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:46 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7:46 a.m.
Proving once again that they are all but unstoppable, the Academic Decathlon team from Casa Grande High School trounced the competition during the regional match on Feb. 1. Now the team has set their sights on the state title, which takes place in March in Sacramento.
It will mark the 30th straight time Casa has represented the region at the state level, a legacy that weighed on each competitor as they went into the regional competition last week.
“It’s been 30 years, you really don’t want to be the team to break that (streak),” said Shin Mei Chan, an 18-year-old senior in her second year on the Academic Decathlon team. Only a handful of the teens on this team participated in last year’s competition, meaning the bulk of competitors didn’t have experience to lean on.
“Casa Grande may have won 30 times, but for most of these students, this is their first time,” said Rick Pillsbury, who has coached the award-winning team for its entire three-decade history.
New this year, the team took on cross-town rivals, Petaluma High School, which created an Academic Decathlon team for the first time in decades this year. The Petaluma team placed fourth overall, which coach Andrew Aja said was respectable considering there was 20 teams from 12 schools spanning Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Solano counties.
“It’s a good starting off point,” Aja said on Tuesday. “We’re very happy for Casa. To have a program that for 30 years goes to the state competition is not an accident.”
Casa students said that having another Petaluma school in the competition definitely lit a fire under their team to perform.
“I think that it really pushed our motivation,” said Joy Gu, 18. “A little friendly competition is a good thing.”
Both teams competed in the exact same series of tests, which included 10 exams on subjects including genetics, music theory and social studies, as well as giving two speeches and taking part in an interview. The students learned from each others’ strengths as they spent hundreds of hours studying for the academic showdown.
“Half of the experience is really just bonding with your team and learning from each other,” said Matthew Juandy, 17, a senior.
Casa’s team of 34 students took home 67 individual medals for achieving one of the top three scores in a subject; while Petaluma High School’s team of 29 students earned 12 medals.
Casa students took this week off to rest their brains, but next week they’ll get back to studying for the state competition in March. In its 30 year winning streak, Casa has placed in the top three at the state level six times. The 2014 team is hoping to be lucky number seven.
“It’s a lot harder competition because it’s the top teams in the state,” Pillsbury said.
Chan assuredly added, “I have confidence we’ll do just fine.”
(Contact Emily Charrier at emily.charrier@ar guscourier.com)
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