Valencia High School’s Academic Decathlon team at the competition award ceremony on Friday, February 9 at Santa Ana High School. Photo courtesy of PYLUSD Good News

By Brendan Munoz

Face to face with the notoriously ambitious climate of Academic Decathlon, Valencia High School (VHS) held its ground at this year’s State competition in Sacramento. Winning seven medals in total, Tigers undoubtedly left their mark at the state capital. However, their road to success was riddled with trials and tribulations along the way.

“Hannah Hui…and the entire Woodbridge team” said Captain Curtis Liu (12) as he recalled one of the team’s toughest adversaries. Upon VHS’ defeat at their hands, rather than crumble under the weight of expectations, Liu lead his team to exceed them. While Woodbridge managed to impress, VHS representative Morgan Gee (11) declared the loss inspired a more constructive and competitive mindset among Tigers as it “encouraged us to work harder to close the gap between us and Woodbridge.” And with the record to back it up, their notable improvement from last season’s performance reflect a growing drive for success.

However, while students may have struggled and encountered numerous adversities throughout competition, right behind them were their six coaches. As the foundation of the club, each coach specializes in certain aspects of competition. Simply put, “…without them, none of this would have been possible” credits Liu. Serving his last year both with Academic Decathlon and VHS, Coach and Social Science teacher Dr. Samuel Myovich has left a profound impact on the club and its members. Having been a coach for over 12 years, his experience has cemented him as one of the most admired pillars of the club. Echoing the sentiments of many, Gee claims, “Mr. Myovich is one of the most knowledgeable individuals I know, yet he’s always supporting of everyone on the team regardless of their performance.” Not made in vain, his efforts and legacy will continue to resonate throughout VHS as the school remembers his ever encouraging mentorship.

Walking away proud, students who competed in Sacramento not only grew as academic competitors, but also as Tigers. The team-based event known as the Super Quiz, drew students closer together and emphasized just how important a healthy team dynamic is in all facets of both academia, and life. The entire team’s performance affected placement and scoring, meaning Tigers needed to come together in order to place highly. This unique aspect of Academic Decathlon quickly became one of VHS’ largest assets during competition as Liu summarized “Our team personality is very comfortable and fun, but we were all committed and put our best foot forward to earn medals.” Thanks to this year’s experience and success under their belt, VHS’ Academic Decathlon already has its eyes on reaching Nationals.

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