It is on to the state championship for the 28th year in a row for the Casa Grande High School Academic Decathlon team.
Casa earned the right to participate in the state tournament coming up on March 15-18 in Sacramento by dominating competition in the North Bay Region event held last weekend in Fairfield. Regional competition featured teams from Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties.
Teams are comprised of students from three levels: honors (grade-point average of 3.75 to 4.00), scholastic (3.00 to 2.74) and varsity (below 3.00).
Casa Grande's No. 1 team and the one headed to state includes team captain Sierra Downey, assistant captains Ben Koos, Shibani Dighe and Mary Miguel along with Brian On, Elijah Gerber-Kaim Bradley Skubic, Junyoung Park and Cody Johnson.
As a team, Casa Grande won 65 individual medals, with its No. 1 team finishing first among Sonoma County teams, as well as first in region. Its super quiz relay team was second.
Casa Grande's team two was third in the super-quiz relay.
Casa team captain Downey won the individual gold medal in the Honors Division, scoring 7,703 total points. Up to 100 points are awarded in each of 10 categories.
Teammate On won the bronze medal in the Honors Division with a 7,435 total score.
Casa Grande also took top honors in both the Scholastic and Varsity divisions, with Koos winning the gold medal in the Scholastic Division and Park the gold in the varsity division. Miguel was silver medalist in the varsity division.
Donna Reed, now in her third year of coaching the Casa Grande team after taking over from Richard Pillsbury, the team founder and 25-year coach, said team members really didn't feel all that much pressure as they defended their amazing streak.
"A lot of it has to do with the way we prepare," she said. "The emphasis is on having fun, enjoying the process and enhancing your knowledge about the subjects.
"We try to get them engaged in the material in different ways than they would in their other classes."
Not only did the Casa Grande team members enjoy the process, it prepared them to again rule the competition.
"I knew we would do well," Reed said, "but I didn't know we would dominate the competition as well as we did. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of their attitude, not only in the competition, but in life as well."
With another regional title safely won, Casa Grande now moves to state competition.
"It is a totally different ball game," Reed said. Although the placements have not yet been announced, Reed expects Casa Grande to again be in Division I, the state's top division.
Casa Grande has won eight state titles, but none of those were in Division I. Competing in the top division for the first time last year, Casa Grande finished 13th.
"Most of the teams in Division I are from Southern California. The kids on their teams don't participate in anything else," Reed noted. "Our kids are in sports and other activities. They have jobs. It doesn't take over their entire life."
(Contact John Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org)