Academic decathlon win showcases University High School's history of success

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University High School took home first place for the sixth time in eight years. (KFSN)

Winning is nothing new to a group of students from University High School in northeast Fresno.

Over the weekend, hundreds of high school students from Fresno County competed in the annual academic decathlon. University High School took home first place for the sixth time in eight years.

The group of about a dozen students from University High School competed with hundreds of other students from 32 school districts this weekend.
And each one put in countless hours of studying to take first place this year.

Most of them have been in academic decathlon competitions for the last few years. Sean Canfield is the one who has been preparing them for competitions like the one Fresno County hosts each year.

"Essentially, more often than not, I'm just cracking the whip and making sure they're reading and really that's the most challenging part," he said.

University High School won first place for the sixth time in the last eight years and the won the super quiz for the sixth year in a row.

For the past several months, students have been studying a large binder on topics related to World War II in addition to a novel, art images and music selections.

"The credit goes to the students," Canfield said. "They're the one who have to take the test, they're the ones who have to write the essay, memorize the speeches and everything."

This was Jared Smith's first year in academic decathlon. The senior says he knew the experience would be a tough one, but he's gained so much more.

"I realized I really liked it," he said. "Learning about the different subject areas, whether it would be math or music or art. I thought it was really entertaining and interesting to learn about."

For Lillian Torres, she considered an academic decathlon veteran. She's participated in competitions for the last three years. She's also a senior at University High School, and she'll miss the team effort with her classmates.

"I will miss a lot of it," she said. "The thing I will probably miss most is getting to know my team members really well. Some of my team members I didn't even know before coming to the academic decathlon, but now they are people I talk to all the time."

University High School won dozens of medals this weekend in addition to several trophies, including the one for first place, that will stay at the high school until next year's competition.

The students from University High School will take a break from studying just a few days. After that, they will prepare for the state competition that will place next month in Sacramento.
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