Woodbridge High wins second straight Orange County Academic Decathlon championship

The Woodbridge High School Academic Decathlon team

Back-to-back champs: The Woodbridge High School Academic Decathlon team has punched its ticket to the California Academic Decathlon in March after winning the county competition for the second year in a row. The team includes (back row, from left) Coach Mike Nakaue, Matthew Ho, John Paul Faza, Sugnan Suresh, Sachin Pathuri, Coach John Tezak, (front row, from left) Hannah Hui, Daniel Kang and Connie Pak. Including Woodbridge, a total of five OC schools are headed to Sacramento this year after producing scores among the state’s best.

Repeat. Back to back. Champions again.

For the second straight year, Woodbridge High School in Irvine has earned first place in the Orange County Academic Decathlon, securing an automatic bid to the California Academic Decathlon in March.

The official word came Friday evening during the OCAD Awards Ceremony, which dished out scores of individual and team medals inside the Bill Medley Auditorium at Santa Ana High School. Capping a night of congratulatory cheers and high-fives, OCDE and the Orange County Academic Decathlon Association declared the Woodbridge squad, which had only seven members instead of the traditional nine, the Overall Team Winner with 51,320.3 hard-fought points scored over the previous two Saturdays.

“This year’s team is known as ‘The Magnificent Seven,'” Coach Mike Nakaue told the OCDE Newsroom afterward. “This group of students evolved slowly into a team and began to peak at the right time. They trusted each other and believed in their teammates. They became committed to one another and felt responsible for each other. They accepted the fact that we do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

With the win, Woodbridge collects another plaque and a $3,000 travel stipend to ensure its members make it to Sacramento for the state-level contest, which will feature powerhouse schools from California’s 38 counties. Last year, the Irvine Unified School District campus finished ninth at the California decathlon.

Meanwhile, here’s the other big news: Four additional OC schools have earned invitations to the state competition.

With scores ranking among California’s best, teams from Westminster High School in the Huntington Beach Union High School District, Trabuco Hills High School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Valencia High in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District and Irvine’s University High School have all been invited to compete as wildcards in the state finals.

That means five teams from Orange County are headed to California Academic Decathlon, and by our count that’s only happened one other time in the event’s 50-year history — back in 2015.

“I’m thrilled that five of our Orange County Academic Decathlon teams will have the chance to travel to Sacramento this year,” said OCDE Program Specialist Kristin Rigby. “It is such a exciting opportunity for them to represent their schools and communities at a state-level competition.”

Here’s a breakdown of the top Orange County teams by division:

DIVISION 1

  • First place: Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District
  • Second place: Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
  • Third place: Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
  • Fourth place: Valencia High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • Fifth place: University High School, Irvine Unified School District

DIVISION 2

  • First place: Esperanza High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • Second place: El Dorado High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • Third place: Sonora High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  • Fourth place: Fairmont Preparatory Academy, a private school
  • Fifth place: Los Alamitos High School, Los Alamitos Unified School District

DIVISION 3

  • First place: Pacifica High School, Garden Grove Unified School District
  • Second place: Saddleback High School, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Third place: Segerstrom High School, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Fourth place: Brea Olinda High School, Brea Olinda Unified School District
  • Fifth place: Loara High School, Anaheim Union High School District

This marks the 50th year of the Academic Decathlon, which was conceived by former Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Peterson. The first decathlon was held at Bolsa Grande High School in 1968.

Today, the event is a big deal pretty much everywhere. In contests staged at the local, county, state and national levels, nine-member teams compete for the most points on multiple-choice exams, speeches, interviews, essay assignments and, of course, the Super Quiz Relay, which is staged in front of a live audience. Each squad must include three “Honor” students (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), three “Scholastic” students (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and three “Varsity” students (GPAs of 2.99 or below).

The 2018 Orange County Academic Decathlon was presented by the Orange County Academic Decathlon Association and OCDE with support from community members and sponsors, including NuVision Federal Credit Union, Del Taco Restaurants Inc., the Orange County Register, Aeries Software, Matific Education, the KLA-Tencor Foundation and the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.

The California Academic Decathlon, set to take place March 23 and March 24 in Sacramento, will be followed by the U.S. Academic Decathlon championships April 19 through April 21 in Frisco, Texas.

For more information, visit OCDE’s Academic Decathlon 101 webpage.