Yosemite wins 20th consecutive decathlon

Matthew Whitecotton top scoring decathlete for Yosemite High

By Kristi Winter / Madera County Office of EducationFebruary 7, 2013 

For the 20th consecutive year, Yosemite High School has won the 2013 Madera County Academic Decathlon held Feb. 2 and the team will now advance to compete in the California Academic Decathlon State Finals March 14-17 in Sacramento.

"I am very proud to coach this team," said YHS coach Steve Browning. "There is a lot of camaraderie and dedication."

Yosemite High scored 33,880.10 points out of 65,400, and will challenge the best schools from throughout California.

"I am very proud of our accomplishments," said YHS team member Angie Du. "We worked hard and it truly paid off. I can't wait for state."

The nine-member team, comprised of three A, three B and three C students, won county decathlon after competing against five county high schools. Chowchilla High School placed second, with Liberty High School coming in third. Other competing schools included Chawanakee Academy, Madera High and Madera South High.

"The decathletes in this year's Academic Decathlon were outstanding examples of the great students we have in Madera County," said Cyndy Dolph, associate superintendent, Madera County Office of Education. "Those students and their coaches put a great deal of effort and time into preparation for this event."

The tests covered a variety of topics based on Russia. Students were also tested on the book Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak.

"I think our success is not only because we're a bright group of students, but because we all bonded together and helped each other out," said YHS team member Ericka Smith. "Plus, we had the best coach in the entire program."

The Yosemite High team members are: Honors Division -- Angela Du, Kenny Jeffris, Ericka Smith; Scholastic Division -- Christen Cogdell, Tasha Dragoo, Rebekah Urbano; Varsity Division -- Mark Friesen, Gregory Royse and Matthew Whitecotton.

"We congratulate Yosemite High School on their win," said Dolph. "They should be proud of their achievements. We wish them well at the state Academic Decathlon competition in Sacramento."

Yosemite High School won the Super Quiz relay held in front of community members, donors, educators, parents and volunteers. First place rosette ribbons were awarded to the team members.

This year, each student participated in 10 challenging events, including tests in art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science and social science.

In addition, the contestants performed a prepared and impromptu speech, wrote essays on a given topic and were interviewed by a panel of judges.

The 2013 Academic Decathlon topic was Russia. Students answered questions from art, economics, literature, music, science and social science during the Super Quiz.

Laurel Samuelson from Chawanakee Academy, was the top scoring decathlete this year, scoring 6,223.7 points across the 10 events.

The top scoring senior from each school will receive a $100 scholarship. The following students earned the senior honors:

Yosemite High School - Matthew Whitecotton
Chowchilla High School - Elizabeth Kutzner
Liberty High School - Justin Klapste
Madera South High School - Alejandro Reyes

Students received gold, silver and bronze medals for each academic event. The following students received medals in the following categories:

Ericka Smith, Yosemite - gold
Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy - silver
Kenny Jeffris, Yosemite - silver
Daniel Lynch, Chawanakee Academy - bronze

Alejandra Segovia, Chowchilla - gold
Daniel Lynch, Chawanakee Academy, silver
Kenny Jeffris, Yosemite - bronze
Ericka Smith, Yosemite - bronze

Matthew Whitecotton, Yosemite - gold
Andrew Addington, Liberty - silver
Lillyanne Hermosilla, Liberty - bronze

Jonathan Tipton, Chawanakee Academy - gold
Gregory Royse, Yosemite - silver
Gerardo Enriquez, Jr., Liberty - bronze
Language & Literature
Daniel Lynch, Chawanakee Academy - gold
Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy - silver
Ericka Smith, Yosemite - bronze

Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy - gold
Alejandra Segovia, Chowchilla High - silver
Angela Du, Yosemite - silver
Kenny Jeffris, Yosemite - silver
Elizabeth Kutzner, Chowchilla - bronze

Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy - gold
Kenny Jeffris, Yosemite - silver
Ericka Smith, Yosemite - bronze

Social Science
Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy - gold
Elizabeth Kutzner, Chowchilla - silver
Matthew Whitecotton, Yosemite - bronze

Kenny Jeffris, Yosemite - gold
Matthew Whitecotton, Yosemite - silver
Brandon Gomez, Chowchilla - bronze
Gregory Royse, Yosemite - bronze

Laurel Samuelson, Chawanakee Academy - gold
Matthew Whitecotton, Yosemite - silver
Michael Lynch, Chawanakee Academy - bronze
Angela Du, Yosemite - bronze

"Students demonstrated their knowledge and put forth their best efforts in this prestigious competition," said Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County superintendent of schools. "The Academic Decathlon program provides students with an opportunity to showcase their skills and the excellent high school programs in Madera County."

More than 75 volunteers from throughout Madera County assisted during the event. Volunteers served as speech and interview judges, administered tests and acted as Super Quiz proctors.

The Academic Decathlon is funded by donations from county businesses and community members.

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