The rivalry continues, although University High School flexed its brain cells once again at the 36th annual Fresno County Academic Decathlon Saturday night (Feb. 3) at Central East High School.
Despite returning only two competitors from last year’s winning squad, University High squeezed out a 680.5-point victory over 18-time champion Edison High. University racked up 51,371 points to Edison’s 50,690.5 points.
University advances to the state Academic Decathlon March 23-24. Edison, based on its point total, is expected to get invited. The state champion will qualify for the national finals in Frisco, Texas.
“We knew months ago Edison had amazing honors (students), and, as you saw, they swept the dean’s medals,” said University coach Sean Canfield.
That accomplishment, said Canfield, is only the third or fourth time that a school has dominated the top three individual awards.
“They also had the top scholastic. The question was, would we be able to counterbalance that,” added Canfield, who has seen University High win seven titles in nine years.
Canfield and Edison High coach Gary Mrkaich agreed the Super Quiz was the difference. “It was 98 percent of the victory there.”
University High also had five juniors and four seniors on this year’s team.
They (Edison High) also had the top scholastic. The question was, would we be able to counterbalance that.
University High coach Sean Canfield
Miranda Lara, a senior who hopes to go to a UC, had enough energy to light up the West Coast. She welcomed the rivalry with Edison High.
“It was much closer than we expected,” said Lara. “They push us and we push them.”
“I don’t know what to do with myself,” shouted Lara as she leaped in the air, hugged teammates and took photos with the group following the Super Quiz.
Laura Lara drove from San Bernardino, where she is a teacher, to see her daughter in action.
“She’s amazing,” she said of her daughter following the Super Quiz.
The competition, she said, has turned her daughter’s life around.
“From her school work to her social life,” said Laura Lara, who was 16 when she gave birth to the University High School senior.
Edison High coach Gary Mrkaich, whose team has won the most titles in Fresno County history with 18 (Roosevelt is second with 8), had more luck this year in fielding a fuller team.
Mrkaich had five A students and four B students, but had to go with two C students. The competition allows up to three students per level.
He was more than pleased with Edison’s results.
“I thought we’d be around 48,500 points,” said MrKaich.
Sweeping the individual honors – Madeleine Fischer, 9,209.3 points; Daniel Clark, 9,066.6 points; and, Sumanjit Gill, 8,799.4 points – was big, said Mrkaich.
“That was a big one for us,” he said.
Juana Serrato, who joined the Edison High team for the first time, was pleased that Edison came close to upsetting University.
“We tried our best,” said Serrato, who joined the Academic Decathlon team “to push myself.”
Before the Super Quiz began, Fresno County Superintendent Jim Yovino welcomed the competitors, their parents and other relatives, the coaches and others for what he called the “real Super Bowl.”
“I know of no other event at school where students work so hard,” said Yovino.
Dr. Honora Chapman, associate dean of Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, told the students that the academic competition is special.
“For the rest of your lives, you will remember what you learned this past year,” said Chapman.
KMPH news anchor Rich Rodríguez served as the quizmaster for the 27th year.
Other top winners:
Division II: Fowler, 39,895.1 points; Sanger High, 37,652.2 points; Sunnyside High, 37,131.9 points.
Division III: Firebaugh High, 40,534.9 points; Clovis West, 37,678.2; Duncan Polytechnical, 36,320.9 points.
Division IV: Washington Union, 26,789.2 points; Caruthers High, 25,150 points; Cambridge High, 24,771 points.
This story will be updated.
Edison High (18): 2014, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1992
Roosevelt High (8): 1993, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1983
University High (7): 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2010
Clovis West (2): 1996, 1984
Clovis High (1): 1991