Before this tournament, none of the competitors stretch any muscles except in their fingers for writing, their legs for sitting and standing and their brains for thinking.
These competitors are decathletes and their tournament was the Academic Decathlon.
After months of studying about all things related to the continent of Africa and mathematics, preparing speeches and practicing for interviews, the students of Kings County competed in the Academic Decathlon for recognition, scholarship and the opportunity to compete on the state level.
The Lemoore Middle College High School team won for the sixth year in a row. Lemoore High School and Hanford West High School placed second and third, respectively.
The top students in 24 categories were awarded scholarships of $125 to $1,000. Randen Banuelos, the top decathlete and junior coming from Lemoore Middle College High School, won six categories.
The Lemoore Middle College High School will go March 23 and 24 to the statewide competition in Sacramento.
The theme for the competition was Africa. This means the teams learned about African social science, art, music and literature. The main book for the literature section was “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, a novel focused on life before and after colonialism in Nigeria.
Their science section was focused on infectious diseases like malaria, HIV and Ebola to name a few. The mathematics and economics sections do not typically go with the theme.
The students also prepare a speech for a panel of judges. They also give an impromptu speech on the topic chosen during the session. Then a set of judges do a panel interview with the contestants and score them on their performance.
The culminating event is the Super Quiz. This is when students take a quiz in a relay format while people in the gymnasium cheer them on.
The Lemoore Middle College coach, Allen Tong, said the team usually picks a subject to study for each practice. When they study, they either reread the section or take practice tests. They also use a common academic decathlon study aid, DemiDec.
Over Christmas break, they practiced their speeches.
As they prepare for the state competition, Tong said they are focusing on their weaker subjects — music, social science and economics.