The Wilmot Union High School Academic Decathlon team won its fourth consecutive state title last week. Top row, left: Samantha Steiner, Isaac Bruley, Kyle Kostrova, Sean O’Dowd, Kylie Henderson. Bottom: Ambriel Siggeman, Claire Vozel, Emily Heckel, Rachel Kostrova (Submitted/The Report).

Team receives fourth straight state title

By Jason Arndt

Entering the state competition March 3 in the Wisconsin Dells, the Wilmot Union High School academic decathlon team faced obstacles in pursuit of its fourth consecutive title, but the team of two returners and seven newcomers knew what had to get done.

Wilmot Union, which ranked fourth after the local competition in November, trailed first place by 3,200 points.

However, following regional competition at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the team rose to second place behind Watertown, trimming its deficit to 2,300 points.

According to coach Don Serkowski, no team in at least 15 years ever mounted a comeback from a fourth place local appearance, making this year’s achievement nearly unprecedented.

Serkowski, noting the team lost most of its points from last year, including graduates Carlie Banchi and Carl Simmons, he said it was not fair to expect this year’s squad to fill the void.

“It wasn’t fair to expect a team made up of so many newcomers to try to fill the huge shoes of our school’s greatest decathletes,” said Serkowski.

The team, however, had other ideas at the state competition, collecting 23 individual medals along with top scoring school in social science, science, music, art and super quiz.

With top scores in several categories, and 23 individual medals, the team grew by more 3,500 points to edge Watertown for the state title, Serkowski said.

Serkowski cited the team’s growth and the leadership of returners Kyle Kostrova, a senior, and junior Isaac Bruley.

“It is the growth of the team, and two kids coming back from last year, they all worked hard,” said Serkowski. “They put a lot of time and effort on this.”

Kostrova, in his second full year on the team, and third overall after he served as an alternate as a sophomore, said the comeback was a result of intense studies and teamwork.

“We wanted to make sure we got as much information as possible in that short amount of time,” Kostrova said. “Not only that, everyone did their best here, they did their best at home, they studied like crazy.”

All-State Recognition
Three team members received all-state recognition following their performances.

Kyle Kostrova, who received gold medals in both science and economics, added a silver medals in music and essay, followed by bronze medals in art and social science.

For Kyle Kostrova’s accomplishments, he earned all-state recognition, garnering a silver medal with a second place finish in the varsity division.

Furthermore, in the Scholastic Division, Bruley earned seven medals, including a gold medal in music, art and social science.

Bruley, the school’s leading scorer, added silver medals in Language and Literature along with Interview, rounding out his honors with bronze medals for science and economics.

Additionally, senior Samantha Steiner received first overall in the varsity division, earning a gold medal.

Steiner, in her first year on the team, received a gold medal in each of the five categories: Essay, Language and Literature, Music, Art and Social Science.

In addition to her gold medals, Steiner received silver in science and speech.

Achievement roundup
Meanwhile, senior Rachel Kostrova, in the varsity division, received a silver medal in both art and social science.

Other contributing members were junior Emily Heckel, who was the team’s sixth leading scorer, contributing to the overall championship score.

Also, Serkowski states junior Kylie Henderson and sophomore Ambriel Siggeman each exhibit the potential to grow,

Future Leaders
Additionally, freshman Claire Vozel earned a bronze in art competing in the honors division.

Vozel, along with Sean O’Dowd, are the team’s only two freshman, which gives Serkowski a reason for optimism in the future.

“The two freshman brought everything, just total dedication, they jumped on board just three weeks prior to competition,” said Serkowski, noting Vozel is the first freshman to receive a medal in school history.

Kyle Kostrova agreed, adding Vozel and O’Dowd played an integral role in the Super Quiz Event.

“They both went 5 for 5 in the Super Quiz and they both scored relatively high in general,” said Kyle Kostrova. “They just brought the team up and gave us that chance to win.”

Overall, the team rattled off 15 consecutive correct answers in the Super Quiz, which included 5 for 5 from Bruley, earning them a share of first place in the event with Watertown.

Following their state title, the Wilmot Academic Decathlon looks to defend its national title in Madison, where competition is slated for April 20-21.


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