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Mettle Tests Net Medals
0212 MEDALS 1
Academic Decathlon individual winners Maggie Casteel, Anastassya Zack, Giovanni Hermosillo and David Esparza displaying their medals. All four are seniors this year at EHS. Marg Jackson/The Times

Doing battle with some of the top academic students in San Joaquin County, the Academic Decathlon team from Escalon High held its own, coming away from the two weekends of competition with hard-earned hardware.

For the team overall, it was a third place finish in the Small Schools division and for four individual members, the competition also earned them additional honors.

Medals received included five by David Esparza, two for Giovanni Hermosillo, two for Anastassya Zack and one for Maggie Casteel.

It was Esparza’s first year on the team, competing in the Scholastic category and the senior received third place medals in literature, economics, essay and music, along with taking a second place medal in science. Since he is a senior, this was Esparza’s only appearance in the countywide competition.

“I had some experience from Aca Pen (Academic Pentathlon, a middle school event),” Esparza said of jumping into the academic competition for the first time at the high school level, noting he didn’t have too many nerves going in. “It was fun.”

Senior Giovanni Hermosillo, also in the Scholastic division, got his medals in interview (second place) and essay (first place).

“I had a few nerves going into my speech,” he admitted. “But it was fun and I liked the Super Quiz.”

Four-year participant and senior Anastassya Zack, an Honors starter for the team, said she has gained more than knowledge by being a part of the program.

“I think it has given me more confidence,” she said, able to bring home a first place medal in speech and a third place medal for essay this year.

“As a freshman in speech, I had a lot of stutters and umms,” Zack explained. “Now I have enough self-confidence to get a medal.”

Senior Maggie Casteel, in the Honors category, tied with Zack for a first place medal in speech, even though it didn’t go quite as she planned.

“I forgot part of my speech in the middle and had to ad lib,” she said.

Knowing her material, however, allowed her to do that without missing a beat and it was impressive enough for the judges to award two first place medals in the category.

All four students said they enjoyed the entire AcaDec experience, from the study sessions over the past several months to the pizza parties to getting the chance to learn more and display that knowledge in the tests and Super Quiz. Helping Escalon High pick up a third place overall finish in the Small Schools division was an added bonus this year and all four seniors urged underclassmen to consider giving the program a try.

AcaDec coach George Megenney said he was extremely pleased with the team’s overall showing and the bushel of medals the starters brought home.

“They did us proud,” Megenney said.