Canyon del Oro High School’s Academic Decathlon team will represent Arizona at nationals in April.
The team, from Amphitheater Public Schools, beat its closest competitor by more than 3,000 points.
That’s substantial, said CDO coach Chris Yetman, who compared it to the last time CDO won state in 2006. “We won that year by only 76 points, which is like double, double overtime,” he said.
Marana Unified School District’s Mountain View High School team placed fourth overall. And Sonoran Science Academy was named top small school and got the rookie of the year award.
All academic decathlon teams must be comprised of A, B and C students.
CDO’s team is made up of Taylor Cleland (A), Marie Clymer (B), and Jordan Kurker-Mraz, (C) who all finished in the top three of their categories. Ben Ferell (A), Melinda Fraser (A), Jennifer Wendel (B), Ellie Strasser (B), Dylan Ousley (C) and Rush Moore (C).
Yetman credits the win to incredible hard work.
“This team was willing to sit down and work three or four hours after they did their homework,” he said. “They’d get yelled at by parents and by me for not going to bed on time. I wanted to keep them healthy.”
Wendel said she used to stay on the phone studying with Clymer until 2 a.m., but she found a way around getting yelled at at home to go to bed.
“I started getting up really early, around 4 a.m., to study,” she said.
Her parents can’t be too upset, she said – especially her dad, who is a CDO vice principal, Robert Wendel.
“We brought a nice honor to the school,” she said.
Individually at the state competition in Phoenix Saturday, Cleland was the second-highest scorer overall; Clymer was top-scorer in the B category and Kurker-Mraz was second-highest scorer in the C category. Ben was the top essay writer and the team as a whole won the Super Quiz relay.
For their win, CDO students earned between $500 and $1600 in scholarships, Yetman said, and $250 flight vouchers on US Air.
Ferell said no one was more surprised than he was when he took the top essay award. “I’ve never medaled in essay before except in a very small competition,” he said.
His strategy for nationals, which will be in Memphis, Tenn., April 22 to 25: “I think we’ll all focus on the events that we had the lowest relative scores in. For me, that’s Art and the Super Quiz.”
Arizona Academic Decathlon state contest results:
1. 47,055.5 Canyon del Oro
2. 44,052.2 Red Mountain
3. 43,988.7 Mountain View Mesa
4. 42,901.4 Mountain View Marana
5. 42,769.0 Mountain Pointe
Source: Arizona Academic Decathlon data