Wilmot High School's academic decathlon team successfully defended its state title over the weekend securing its sixth consecutive championship and advancing to the national competition that will take place next month.
The nine-member AcaDec team brought their A-game to the the state event Friday held in Wisconsin Dells, wrapping up months of competition, which included local and regional contest. The 1960s serves as this year's curricular theme for the competition.
Wilmot bested 19 other teams earning top scores on all seven written tests — art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science and social science. The team won the Super Quiz Relay competition on Friday, the only event held publicly. Students also had to write an essay prior to the event and are required to give speeches, both extemporaneous and impromptu.
Two months ago, the Wilmot AcaDec team placed second at the regional competition held at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, losing to Watertown. But coach Don Serkowski said the team buckled down for the state competition.
"It's a big jump in growth from regionals to state," he said Sunday. "It's what we pride ourselves on. We get better every decathlon."
According to Serkowski, the decathletes committed to becoming better and holding each other accountable. He said not only did they study together, but also bonded by simply hanging out.
“They became a real team — helping each other, pushing each other, having each other’s backs," he said. "You could tell that they were going in to this decathlon as a caring, driven unit. So much so that it was the most hands-off I’ve been in preparing a team down the stretch. All of them were already doing what I would’ve demanded of them, even a little more in a few cases. It was very fulfilling to watch.”
According to Serkowski, the top three scoring students on the team were juniors Sean O’Dowd, Marcus Wolff and Levi Keen.
O'Dowd was the state's top overall scoring decathlete, with Wolff finishing a close second. Serkowski said their combined scores marked the first time Wilmot had the top two overall scoring decathletes at the state competition.
“They’re like brothers who feed positively off one another. Honestly, they care more about their other teammates’ scores than their own at times," he said.
He credited Wolff for helping to bolster the team's math scores, having taught them the statistics needed on weekends and after school. That resulted in the team improving its score by more than 1,000 points since regionals and setting a school record in the process, he said.
Three seniors joined Wolff and O’Dowd on the all-state team. Austin Adam took first overall in the varsity division, followed by teammate Ambriel Siggeman, who placed second overall in the same division.
He said, while the two veteran decathletes were expected to place, newcomer Grady Duffy placing third-place overall in the scholastic division was a welcomed surprise.
During the event, Wolff tied the overall state record on the social science exam with 960 points, a mark he shares with former Wilmot decathlete Carlie Banchi, who hit the same mark in 2015.
Though Wilmot has won two Division II national championships, the team has never won a Division I national championship.
This year's team, however, had the second-highest score in school history, second only to the 2016 team, Serkowski said.
"They're a really good team. We had five out of nine (on the team) — all-state kids," he said. "I'm very proud of all of them."
Wilmot advances to the national competition that will be held April 25-27 in Bloomington, Minn.