April 28, 2017
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HI 52 / LO 42

Wilmot pulls Academic Decathlon upset

Ranked fourth, teams surges to take state title


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BY JILL TATGE-ROZELL
jrozell@kenoshanews.com


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The Wilmot High School basketball team wasn't the only team from the school to upset a higher seed last weekend.

The Academic Decathlon team came from behind to win its fourth consecutive state title Friday night in Wisconsin Dells, earning a berth in the national contest.

"They have shown me something I didn't think was possible,” coach Don Serkowski said. "There were no expectations to win."

The team advances to the national competition April 20-21 in Madison to defend its Division 2 national title.

"I am not going to underestimate these unlikely state champions," Serkowski said.

The team lost 83 percent of its scoring to graduation last spring. For the first time in six years, it failed to win the regional contest and was ranked fourth in the state. No team had ever come back from fourth place to win a state championship, Serkowski said.

"They made their mantra, 'Fourth and Goal,'" Serkowski said.

In Academic Decathlon, teams compete in 10 scholastic events based on an academic theme. This year's theme is World War II. Each school enters a team of nine students: three "A" or Honor students (3.750 - 4.00 GPA), three "B" or Scholastic students (3.00 - 3.749 GPA), and 3 "C or below" Varsity students (0.00 - 2.999 GPA).

Doing the work

After a lackluster performance at the local contest, the decathletes dedicated themselves to countless hours of studying, both individually and as a team, dissecting the curriculum and coaching their teammates through their speeches and interviewing skills, Serkowski said.

The team grew its score by more than 3,500 points between the regional and state competition while the favored team from Watertown stayed at the same level.

"That team mentality, that 'we're all in this together,’ that our decathletes were totally committed to each other's success, is ultimately what led them to victory," Serkowski said.

Serkowski said success in the Honors Division was integral to capturing the state title.

"That is the toughest division," he said.

Frosh step up

Claire Vozel's one bronze medal for Art in the Honors Division is the school's first by a freshman and was indicative of her and fellow freshman Sean O'Dowd's tremendous growth between the regional round and the state competition. They are Wilmot’s first freshman team members.

"They performed with poise beyond their tender age and are looking to improve even more for nationals," Serkowski said.

While most Academic Decathlon events are not open to the public, the final event — the Super Quiz — is. And that’s where, in front of about 600 people Friday, Wilmot made its move.

Serkowski said two-thirds of the way through the competition, veteran decathlete Isaac Bruley went a perfect five-for-five during his round, igniting the Wilmot fans and inspiring a run of 15 straight correct answers after Vozel and O'Dowd duplicated his feat.

Five firsts

In addition to taking the state trophy, Wilmot took home award plaques for being the top-scoring school in Social Science, Science, Music, Art and Super Quiz.

Wilmot's overall leading scorer, Bruley, finished third overall in the Scholastic Division and earned a $200 cash scholarship.

Senior and first-year decathlete Samantha Steiner captured first place overall in the Varsity Division, followed by senior Kyle Kostrova in second place overall.

Wilmot Decathlon individual medals

Honors Division

Claire Vozel - bronze in Art

Scholastic Division

Isaac Bruley - gold in Music, Art and Social Science; silvers in Language & Literature and Interview; bronze in Science and Economics.

Varsity Division

Samantha Steiner - gold in Essay, Language & Literature, Music, Art and Social Science; silver in Science and Speech

Kyle Kostrova - golds in Science and Economics; silver in Music and Essay; bronzes in Art and Social Science

Rachel Kostrova - silver in Art and Social Science


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