Academic Decathlon Overcomes Freak Injury


Mikhail Vasilyev, Staff Writer

5 members of Academic Decathlon, one of which injured himself during the competition, received medals for their accomplishments as the team placed 6th in its division of the California championship. The event was held March 24-26 in Sacramento.

Returning from a break in the competition, Bennett Coates was running down the stairs and missed a step, falling down and rolling his ankle.  In an instant, the contribution of one of the team’s critical members was put into questionable.

“When Bennett rushed off I was worried that he wasn’t coming back, and the doors for the test were about to close. And I’m standing there freaking out,” said Verbanszky. “Finally I see his red shirt across the hall and he’s being carried by 2 coaches. I panicked and ran over to Bennett. I asked if he still wanted to take the test. Bennett then heroically said ‘No, I still have to take the test. I am here to win it.’ And then he made it through, and ever since that point he was known as the hero among all the other Aca Deca students.”

Coates spent the rest of the week on crutches.

“I think that this should show everyone that Aca Deca is a real sport. It can be quite rigorous. As you can see I’ve needed crutches for the past few days,” said Coates. “The first part of the tests was just me in pain pounding my fist on the table like ‘alright lets do the next one!'”

Sophomore Mikhail Vasilyev received a gold medal in the essay category, which was contested the week before the event in Sacramento.

In Sacramento, the first events were the 7 objective tests, each lasting 30 minutes, and consisting of 50 questions, except for the math test which is 35 questions. Senior Captain Zoe Portnoff received a bronze medal and junior Ashley Zhang received a silver in the first art test.

Senior Bennett Coates received a silver and Junior Co-Captain Athya Uthayakumar received a gold in the science assessment.

Portnoff also received gold in literature and silver in music.

In social science Vasilyev received a silver medal, and Portnoff received a gold.

On the 2nd day of competition, each competitor delivered a prepared speech, an impromptu speech and was interviewed by a panel. Portnoff received a gold in the interview category.

In the Jeopardy-like super quiz competition, where 3 teammates work together against other trios to answer questions given on a projector in a large auditorium, Campolindo did exceptionally well, according to coach Paul Verbanszky.

However, its was decided that the super quiz would not be counted in the overall scores, and the teams would not receive medals, after it was discovered that the quiz questions were available online prior to the competition. “I was actually incredibly bummed by that because this would have been a great addition to our points and we would have gotten a bunch of medals. I understand the decision, but at the same time it was kind of weird,” said Verbanszky.

“I’ve been in academic decathlon all 4 years of high school and it was highly rewarding to have all that hard work pay out. Leading up up to the state competition, I was studying approximately 3 hours every day, so getting those medals made the suffering worth it,” said Portnoff.

“I was incredibly proud of my students’ performance. They did an amazing job at states. I know all the situations with the super quiz and Bennett’s injury were setbacks to us, but in the end I think it worked out,” said Verbanszky.