It may be a bit early to call it a legacy, but in its second trip representing California at the national Academic Decathlon competition, Lemoore Middle College High School did it again: No. 1 against the nation’s best.

Competing against 17 schools up to six times its size in the small and medium school division (Division IV) at Saturday’s Bloomington, Minnesota award ceremony, the 230-student school bested competitors with as many as 1,400 students.

Even when ranked against schools of all sizes, LMCHS achieved an amazing 8th place out of 83 competitors.

The competition challenged the students with two days of grueling academic tests, essays, interviews, speeches and a fast-paced Super Quiz public event. Preparation for this year’s competition began last summer and required an arguably heroic commitment to frequent in-school, after-school, weekend and holiday study.

This year’s winning team included students Randen Banuelos, Anna Crownover, Nathalia DeSouza, Benjamin Guerrero, Jasmine Oliveira, Ethan Reis, Beau Reynolds, Renee Snell and Nikolas “Niko” Valentino. Coaches Allen Tong, Janet Bengtson, and John Bengtson, along with assistant coach Macy Gage, provided instruction, support, and needed (but ever-so-loving) motivation.

In addition to their team win, individual members acquired an impressive 25 event medals.

Medals won included: Most Valuable Team Member (Benjamin—chosen by his teammates as the most spirited and encouraging member, earning a $250 scholarship); Highest Scoring Team Member (Randen, earning a $250 scholarship); Music (Randen and Beau, gold; Ethan, silver; and Ben, bronze); Art (Randen, gold; Beau, silver; and Jasmine, bronze); Math (Randen, gold; Niko, silver; and Ethan, bronze); Language and Literature (Ethan and Jasmine, gold; Beau and Randen, silver); Economics (Randen and Ethan, bronze); Science (Ethan, gold; Randen, silver; and Niko, bronze); Social Science (Randen and Beau, gold; Jasmine, bronze); and Speech (Nathalia, silver).

Six students won special scholarship awards for their total (all events) scores against all other Division IV students within their GPA category. In the Varsity GPA category, Niko took 3rd place ($250 scholarship), and Jasmine took 2nd place ($750 scholarship). In the Scholastic GPA category, Beau took 3rd place ($500 scholarship), Nathalia took 2nd place ($750 scholarship), and Ethan took 1st place ($1,000 scholarship). And finally, Randen took 2nd place in the Honors GPA category ($750 scholarship).

All nine students also earned a beautiful team gold medal for their performance in the SuperQuiz competition. Warn TSA…the airport metal detectors are going to need recalibration.

The competition is over. With wave after wave of accolades still ringing in their ears, it’s been more than just a little overwhelming. While not every such effort is so richly rewarded, for these few who early on committed themselves to excellence — to doing their absolute best — the link between effort and success has been forged strong. A priceless life lesson to cherish.

But for now, they’re just looking forward to returning to their Valley, and families, as national champions.

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News Reporter

News reporter for The Sentinel

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