The U.S. Academic Decathlon is known as the nation's premier scholastic competition, and 25 students at Mountain Pointe High School challenged 11 teams at the 10-event, two-day competition at the school's 13th annual Academic Decathlon Invitational Nov. 16 and 17. "There's nothing out there that comes close to the rigor that decathlon gives these kids," Mountain Pointe decathlon coach K.R. Scott said. The academic decathlon team not only came through with a victory, but broke 40,000 points in doing so, a score Scott said is Mountain Pointe's highest yet and one that top teams do not usually break until the spring. "We beat out the 11 other teams participating, winning 40 individual awards and having teams come in second and third in the Super Quiz Relay," Scott said. Students competed in a total of 10 events over the course of two days. Seven events are testing competitions: language and literature, art, music, social science, economics, mathematics and science. Three events are performance competitions: speech, interview and essay. Individual award-winning Mountain Pointe decathletes in these categories are Kevin He, Hari Manahraj, Ian McCloskey, Julie Zhou, Cody Jones, Jennifer Zhu, Sam Lundburg, Gavin Plooster, Matt Berk and Adil Soubki. Marcos de Niza High School came in second place overall with 37,425 points, and Hamilton High School came in third with 35,419 points. Desert Vista High School placed 12th with 28,366 points due to an incomplete team. Each year the USAD organization sets a theme. The theme for the 2007-08 school year is "The Civil War." "This year the science portion will cover things such as infectious diseases during the Civil War and students will be tested on things like why more people died from infectious disease than in combat," Scott said. "Economics will cover slavery. Students should know why economically the South preferred slavery and why the North did not." Scott said students spend several hundred hours preparing for competitions. Since May, each student on the Mountain Pointe academic decathlon team has spent at least 14 hours a week studying each of the 10 topics. "They each receive a notebook about 2 inches thick from the organization," Scott said. "By the end of the year they will all have filled two 3-inch notebooks with information." Mountain Pointe's invitational was the first "scrimmage" event of the season. The team will compete again in Queen Creek in January before competing at regionals. The state competition will also be held at Mountain Pointe in March for the second consecutive year. The team has made it their goal to sweep the competition.
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