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Manteca High rakes in awards at Academic Decathlon
The Lathrop High School Academic Decathlon team members are all smiles for a good reason: they won second place in the Top Overall Teams, Small Schools, in the 32nd annual countywide competitions. Award ceremonies were held Wednesday at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Stockton. - photo by Photo Contributed

Manteca High School did it again.

The Buffalo team was awarded second place this week among the top three large schools in the 32nd annual Academic Decathlon Competition, making it the second year in a row that the school received the same honor.

It was the same story for Tracy High, which won the top honors in the same category just as it did last year.

Manteca High, in fact, brought home a Mother Lode of academic awards and distinctions this year as indicated by the other honors below:

• Top Overall Teams, second place.

• Top Super Quiz Team, first place.

• Carlos Medina, Scholastic Top Overall Student, $100 scholarship and medal.

• Vincent Carter, Varsity Top Overall Student, $100 scholarship and medal.

• Jasmine Patel, one of five students who each received $5,000 renewable scholarships from the University of the Pacific. This award was presented to deserving decathletes “who have met the university requirements and have shown a strong desire to attend the university.”

The top overall school this year went to Tracy High School, taking home the Dave Sorgent Winner’s Cup and the honor of going on to compete in the Academic Decathlon State Championship in Sacramento in March.

Lathrop High School, a relatively newcomer to the Academic Decathlon, was also a big winner this year. It came in third among the Top Three Small Schools in the Top Overall Teams division. Nine Spartan students also received individual medals in the following subject areas: Charles Garcia (gold, Science), Precious de los Reyes (silver, Science), Amber Alonzo (gold, music), April Joy Conception (gold, speech), Gurpreet Atwal (gold, speech), Cameran Gazaway (gold, speech; silver, music), Jennifer Leam (gold, language arts), Albert Hoang, alternate (gold, speech), and Michael Weber, division 2 (gold, science).

The head coach of the Lathrop High team is Michael Pangburn with Hillary Beshears is the assistant coach.

Pangburn said this is only the second year the school took part in the countywide academic decathlon.

“I have high hopes and expectations for next year. The kids did a great job and the competition was a confidence booster for the team, the school and, I hope, the Lathrop community,” Pangburn said.

The academic decathlon competitions were held on Jan. 23 and on Feb. 2, both of which were held at the University of the Pacific and were closed to the public. The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Stockton – the site of the Super Quiz on Saturday, Feb. 2.

Vying for the academic awards in the 2013 competitions were a total of 11 high schools in San Joaquin County – Delta Charter in Tracy, Escalon, Lathrop, Lincoln, Manteca, McNair, Middle College, Ripon, Stockton Early College Academy, Tracy, and West high schools. Outside of San Joaquin, guest high schools taking part were Gilroy Early College Academy and Mountain View High from Santa Clara County.

Delta Charter School of New Jerusalem School District in Tracy, and the sister school of Great Valley Academy charter school in Manteca, was honored as the Most Improved Team.

The theme of this year’s brain super bowl was Russia.

Manteca High is an old hat when it comes to winning at the countywide academic decathlon. It was actually the first high school in the Manteca Unified School District to nab the top decathlon honor, captured in 2004, with Cinder Merritt as the head coach. Merritt took the Buffalo team to the championship with over 40,000 points which was the highest point total in 12 years at that time. A member of the team, Bethany Rice, earned another feather for Manteca’s cap by posting a personal score of 8,224 points which beat the county scoring record set by Christina Falcone.

Below are the 2013 academic decathletes for Manteca High and Lathrop High in Manteca Unified, and Ripon High in Ripon Unified:

• Manteca High – Michael McCullough, coach. Laurence Turner, Jenny Yu, Rosa Zou, Mia Holbrook, Carlos Medina, Gavin O’Malley, Vincent Carter, Abraham Farias, Tony Padilla, Adaeze Nkwocha, Alex Van, Allyson Paul, Cinthis Duenas, Jasmine Patel, Jorge Betancourt, Lauren Helsley, Mahir Pepic, Michael Huckaby, Roman Romero, Ryan Ender, Santiago Horta, Weley Lin, and Wendy Lin.

• Lathrop High – Mike Pangburn, coach; Hillary Breashers, assistant coach – Gurpreet Atwal, Kultar Ram, Parminder Singh, Precious De Los Reyes, Omar Fernandez, Charles Garcia, Cameron Gazaway, Daniel Lorentz, Maryjoyce Pascual, Cyrina Avila, Heron Haile, Carina Herrera, Albert Hoang, Keren Pineda, Kathleen Wilson, Amber Alonzo, Jennifer Leam, Michael Weber, Amanprit Bahga, April Joy Conception, Dessika Halim, Gilberto Duran, Izea Bendanillo, Johnny Barajas, Josue Gonzalez, Leticia Casillas, Marisa Cain, Miya Lambert, Nathaly Gutierrez, Nicholas Cruz, Shyal Singh, and Yessika Halim.

• Ripon High – Louise Johnson, coach. Anna Fassler, India Chakraverty, Parker Fleming, Tyler Green, Hanna Joekama, Gunnarson Thomas, Jorge Gonzalez, and Ryan Kirkpatrick.