Decathletes win state title, advance to nationals

After winning the Academic Decathlon state title, the team will be moving on to the national competition hosted in Frisco, Texas from April 27-29. Team members credit their winning success to hard work and a supportive environment of students and coaches.


Amanda Hill

Finding success…After spending hours studying prior to the competition, decathlete Shane Raab receives a bronze medal in the essay category from assistant coach Carolyn Scott.

After hours of preparation, Academic Decathlon team members became Pennsylvania state champions March 3-4 at Thiel College in Greenville, Pa.
The team now advances to the national competition in April. Nationals will be held in Frisco, Texas.
United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) is a non-profit organization that runs an academic competition for high school students across the country.
Teams can compete in scrimmages, regional, state and national competitions.
Involved students take several multiple choice exams in subject areas ranging from literature to economics.
They also deliver a prepared speech and an impromptu speech, participate in an interview and write an essay.
The exams and essay are centered on the given year’s topic, this year being the American Revolution.
After advancing from the Eastern Pennsylvania regional competition, the Academic Decathlon team moved onto the state competition.
Senior captain Ashley Caputo believes that multiple factors contributed to the success of the team.
“Coming off a loss at states last season, we were absolutely determined to win this year,” Caputo said. “I think that enthusiasm, diligence and a small bit of rage lead our team to states.”
Senior and coach Mahreen Parvez found two main contributing factors to the team’s advancement to the state competition.
“Dedication and connection are really the two things that make up what Souderton Academic Decathlon is,” Parvez said. “So, when you combine the motivated mindset with the almost family-like connection we have, it sends us over the top.”
Head coach Phil Cerami believes that the relationships built between the members of the team are strong factors for their success.
“This group of students has been one of the closest I’ve ever been around as a coach. It’s always vindicating when a group comes together to the point that you just know that they can’t be broken apart. We knew that any other team in Pennsylvania would have to be uniquely special to take the championship away from this group this year,” Cerami said.
Senior decathlete Shane Raab finds connection an integral part of enjoying Academic Decathlon as a whole.
“Our team is filled with so many wonderful, kind and supportive people. It has effectively become akin to a second family,” Raab said. “I don’t stay in the program because I particularly enjoy multiple choice tests. I stay in the program because of all of the amazing people I get to do it all with.”
Caputo also felt value in the relationships formed and strengthened as a result of Academic Decathlon.
“We all formed one group of people that enjoyed each other and believed in each other. At competitions, whenever someone from our team would earn a medal, the roars from our section were just as loud for every single person no matter what,” Caputo said.
“I feel like I’ve gained a closer relationship with my pre-existing friends and gained new friends entirely as well.”
Raab and his fellow decathletes also utilized all of the resources available to them when studying.
“Many of us took notes [to the competition] and took practice exams, quizzes and flashcards on our own to prepare. At practices, we frequently reviewed our subjective events and went over older tests in preparation for,” Raab said.
Parvez aims to decrease the stress the decathletes feel when studying so that they could perform at their best.
“I try to check up on everyone and am more of a service member,” Parvez said. “I plan meetings and practices by asking people for their input and what they feel like working on that day.”
Caputo feels that Parvez was successful with her goal of lowering decathletes’ stress levels.
“One of our coaches, Mahreen, put her all into making the states preparation as stress-less as possible for everyone,” Caputo said. Cerami feels that he has never seen any team work harder than this year’s group of students.
“I’ve never seen a team push harder than that with all nine members of the starting lineup. A 3,000-4,000 point increase as a team from regionals to states is almost impossible, and that only happens if everyone is pulling in the same direction,” Cerami said.