Waukesha West Academic Decathlon Returns Triumphant
Team overcomes rough start to the season to win division championship at nationals.
The Waukesha West High School Academic Decathlon team placed first in its division and fourth overall at the United States Academic Decathlon held in Albuquerque, NM last week.
Academic Decathlon Coach Susan Otto said they felt “pretty good” about the results, especially considering that at one point the team was not thought to win state, which they did, earning a spot at the national competition.
It is the 11th year in a row that West’s academic decathlon team advanced to the national competition.
While West usually does well at the nation competition, this year's season began with an unexpected second-place finish at the regional competition in January, leading to uncertainty going into the state competition in March.
The Academic Decathlon is a ten-event scholastic competition for teams of high school students. Each high school enters a team of nine students: 3 "A" or Honor students, 3 "B" or Scholastic students, and 3 "C" or Varsity students. The high schools are separated into divisions based on size. West is considered a Division 2 school.
Otto said that, overall, the students are satisfied with the results and the trip.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “I told the kids: ‘We’re at nationals, baby! This is the big time!’”
Balancing the pressure and enjoying the experience was something she hoped to instill in the students.
“Sometimes they get so caught up in the competition that they forget to enjoy it. We want them to be able to look back and say, ‘That was fun!’” Otto said.
While in Albuquerque, in addition to competing with the strongest teams from across the United States, the West students enjoyed the warmer weather and also experienced an unusual weather event, a dust storm. They also went to Santa Fe and did some sightseeing.
After returning, the team will be taking a break, catching up with their lives.
“Preparing for the competition has been intense,” Otto said.
After the break, they will begin to get the team ready for next year, with the seniors doing a quite a bit of the work in selecting the team. Even after high school has ended, oftentimes graduating seniors come back to help the team during fall or winter breaks.
“They still feel loyalty to the team,” Otto said.
The commitment to the legacy of the West Academic Decathlon team doesn’t end with graduation.
Waukesha West student awards
The following Waukesha West students were recognized as top scoring students for Division 2 schools:
- In the honors category, Thomas Redding placed second, followed by Michael Ferschinger in third.
- In the scholastic division, William Tyndall placed second.
- Waukesha West students swept the varsity division. Tyler Thomsen placed first, Emma Nelton took second and Jefferson Kutcher placed third.
The following students were recognized for their high scores in the following subjects:
- Emma Nelton placed second in Art, third in Music and tied for third in Science in the varsity division.
- Thomas Redding tied for first place in Math and took third place in Economics in the honors division.
- Jacob Goodman placed third in Math in the honors division.
- Tyler Thomsen placed first in Math, and tied for second in Science in the varsity division.
- Andrew Payant tied for third in Science in the scholastic division.
Complete results can be viewed at the United States Academic Decathlon website.