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CDO 4th at national academic decathlon

Citizen Staff Writer



What do you do if you’ve just come back from placing fourth in the nation at the Academic Decathlon competition?

You think about what you’re going to do next year.

That’s the plan for the Canyon del Oro High School team, which placed third in the large school division and fourth overall at the contest in Memphis, Tenn., late last week, scoring 47,972.3 points out of a possible 60,000. The team was 91.7 points from earning third place overall, said coach Chris Yetman.

Next year’s topic, the French Revolution, is an exciting one, Yetman said, “and several people have already started reading the official novel, ‘Tale of Two Cities.’ We’re planning summer study sessions, too.”

This is the second time the CDO team has represented Arizona at the nationals. In 2006, the team placed fifth.

CDO’s team members are Taylor Cleland, Marie Clymer, Ben Ferell, Melinda Fraser, Jordan Kurker-Mraz, Dylan Ousley, Rush Moore, Ellie Strasser and Jennifer Wendel.

Some of the members also took individual awards:

• Kurker-Mraz, gold medals in art and essay; silver in social science and Super Quiz; and bronze in the 10-event overall.

• Ferell got a gold in math and bronze in 10-event overall, literature and art.

• Wendel, a gold in interview.

• Cleland, a silver in social science and bronze in art and math.

• Fraser, a silver in art.

• Moore, a silver in social science.

Kurker-Mraz also received a $3,000 scholarship for top essay and a $500 scholarship for his bronze in the 10-event. The 10-event award is for highest combined totals in all the contest categories.

Ferell received a $500 scholarship for highest score in the team, beating Cleland by 2.3 points out of 10,000, Yetman said, and a $500 scholarship for the bronze medal he won in the 10-event.

Clymer, a senior, was a freshman the first time the team went to the nationals. “I didn’t think we could ever outdo that team, but I was wrong. Our improved placement at nationals achieved what I’d been hoping for since that year.

“The general opinion of other decathletes before nationals was that we would place fifth or sixth, so being able to exceed their expectations by a substantial point margin was very gratifying.”

Kurker-Mraz, who will be on next year’s team, said he’d be thrilled to match this year’s performance. Next year, “I look forward to being less confused at the beginning of the year, and being cognizant, or rather less shocked about the volume of time and effort that must be put in to be successful and competitive.”

Yetman is proud of his team’s high finish in an event “the caliber of the teams is extremely impressive.”

“More importantly, they’re all very friendly and there is an excellent camaraderie among them,” he said. “Several other coaches commented about how nice and friendly my kids were. I’m very proud of them for that.

“There are many teams who come to nationals only to compete, but I emphasized to my kids the best part was the chance to meet students from other states.”

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