Members of the Wilmot Academic Decathlon team, which took second at the national finals in Hawaii earlier this year, are (front from left) Alyssa Gregory, Angela Schumacher, Alexa Lewis, Claudia Baker, Ashley Dabbs; (back row) Althea Disse, Johny Weber, Joey Burba, Kyle Kostrova, Carl Simmons and Carlie Banchi.

Members of the Wilmot Academic Decathlon team, which took second at the national finals in Hawaii earlier this year, are (front from left) Alyssa Gregory, Angela Schumacher, Alexa Lewis, Claudia Baker, Ashley Dabbs; (back row) Althea Disse, Johny Weber, Joey Burba, Kyle Kostrova, Carl Simmons and Carlie Banchi.

Team advances to state competition

By Anne Trautner

Staff Writer

For the fifth year in a row, Wilmot’s academic decathlon team won the regional competition on Jan. 9 at UW-Whitewater, posting the highest score in all five regional competitions held across the state.

“The competition is very different than what I am used to and it is good team bonding thing,” said Althea Disse, a member of Wilmot’s decathlon team.

Westosha Central also competed at regionals, but did not advance.

Wilmot’s team has been training all year for the competition, learning ways to study and prepare for tests. The work has been paying off.

“I’m very excited. I did very well [in regionals] and I am first in the state now, which is very, very surprising, actually,” said Althea, who was the highest scorer in the state in the varsity division. “I was very nervous and didn’t think I did that well. So it was even more surprising when I did.”

The decathletes are now preparing for the state competition, to be held March 12 and 13 in Wisconsin Dells. The team is made up of nine students and three alternates.

“They’ve got the fever. They are in it to win it,” said team advisor Don Serkowski.

The students are preparing for the U.S. Academic Decathlon, an international high school program in which students compete in 10 scholastic contests.

At the state competition, the students will compete in a Super Quiz to answer five questions with 20 teams. The school plans to send up a fan bus to bring students to cheer on Wilmot’s team.

“It is awesome,” Serkowski said. “It’s pretty intense, and it’s a pretty athletic atmosphere. Lots of mascots, people shouting and cheering, signs…it’s cool.”

Wilmot won the state title last year. Serkowski expects the team to do well at state again this year.

“Based solely on their work ethic, I think it’s a real good sign that we are not going to just improve our score at the state, but vastly improve it,” Serkowski said.

Usually teams tend to shut down for a bit while they focus on their finals for school.

“Not with this group. They have been putting more time into it than they ever have,” Serkowski said.

Students and coaches from across the country have been keeping an eye on Wilmot’s team, Serkowski said.

“It’s amazing. People from Texas and Arizona are asking for our scores,” Serkowski said.

Competitors from across the nation have posted on websites that Wilmot is going to be good this year.

“That is kind of a cool thing. We are not just being recognized in this state. Other teams across the nation are looking at us and how we are doing to see, assuming we make it to nationals, to see how we stack up against them,” Serkowski said.

However, the team still needs to win state in order to advance to nationals.

“We hope for nationals, and we know that if we go to nationals, we will do well, but we still have to win our state. There is a lot of pride in that Waukesha West program, and even though we have a pretty sizable lead, you can’t ever count them out,” Serkowski said.

Still, Serkowski thinks his team has a good shot at winning the state title.

“I don’t think our kids put up their best scores at regionals. I don’t think they had their best day. They had a really good day at regionals, but I don’t think they had the best day they could have,” Serkowski said.

To prepare for the state competition, the students continue to study.

“I’ve been studying a lot more than I was before because you have to keep that up , especially going into the state competition,” Carl Simmons said. “Right now I’m basically re-reading the guides to make sure I refresh the information. But then, as the competition approaches, I will take notes and I have a process of collecting the information, clumping it together, and then drawing conclusions and patterns from that to make sure I really understand not only what everything is, but how it works together.”

The students tutor one another and encourage each other.

“As a coach, it is inspiring to watch them. They are inspiring me to be more involved through their actions,” Serkowski said.



The Panthers won the UW-Whitewater regional by more than 5,000 points. This year’s theme is “New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.”

Wilmot decathletes posted the program’s best regional score ever while capturing 53 of the possible 90 individual ribbons from the 10-event contest, also a school record. Each Wilmot decathlete earned at least four individual ribbons at the one day event.

The team was led in scoring by junior Carl Simmons in the honors division. Both he and his fellow honors teammate junior Carlie Banchi broke the 8,000 point threshold. They are the highest regional scoring decathletes in Wilmot history, Serkowski said.

Carl took home blue ribbons in music, social studies, and language and literature. He placed second in the state for the honors division and tied for the highest literature test score in the state with a 760 and tied for the highest social science score in the state with a 940.

Carlie placed third in the state and earned ribbons in nine events, only missing out on essay. She won blue in science, art, economics, and interview. She also earned a blue ribbon for a perfect 1,000 on her prepared and impromptu speeches. Carlie tied one other person in the state with a perfect score in speech.

Junior Alyssa Gregory, also in the honors division, won blue in essay and was the most improved Wilmot decathlete since the prior competition in November.

Wilmot decathletes in the honors division took nine blue ribbons collectively, missing out only in math, for which Carl and Carlie tied for second.

In the scholastic division, junior Joey Burba secured eight ribbons, earning blue in music, science, art and economics. He was the top scorer in the scholastic division for the state and had the highest science score in the state.

Senior Johny Weber won six ribbons, with blue in social science and language and literature. He place third in the scholastic division in the state.

Junior Angela Schumacher tallied four ribbons.

Leading the way for the Panthers in the varsity division was junior Althea Disse, who placed first in the state’s varsity division. She netted a team-high six blue ribbons in music, art, economics, interview, social science, and language and literature.

Junior Mason Nindl bagged four ribbons, all red, bested only by teammate Althea each time.

Junior Ashley Dabbs added four more ribbons.

Carl, Joey and Althea were named top overall scholars in their respective honors, scholastic, and varsity divisions at the regional competition. Each received an overall blue ribbon and an individual star-shaped trophy.



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