Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
February 8, 2014
 
It’s a three-peat for Chaffey High School at the San Bernardino County Academic Decathlon. The school is the decathlon champion for the third consecutive year and fifth win in six years. “We were cautiously optimistic, because we had been competing in scrimmages and competitions throughout the year, and our scores were pretty strong,” said Steven Mercado, an AP history teacher and Chaffey’s head coach for the academic decathlon. “We thought we had a real good shot at it, but of course, there’s no guarantees. There’s other schools in the county that are pretty formidable.”
 
Chaffey scored 46,084 points for first place. Redlands East Valley totaled 41,629 points to take second place for the second year in a row. Rancho Cucamonga (40,612), Redlands (39,758) and Cajon (35,570) rounded out the top five finishing schools. The remaining top 10 finishers included Montclair (33,070), Ontario (32,086), Chino Hills (31,894), Rialto (31,494) and San Gorgonio (29,389).
 
One of the keys to Chaffey’s record of success, Mercado said, was that students begin competing long before the decathlon itself. “They have to beat each other to get on the team, and I think that internal competition may be one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor” in the team’s three wins, he said. “They work extraordinarily hard and have fun doing it, and I think that’s important.”
 
More than 400 students from 45 teams at 24 high schools participated in the decathlon held on January 25, 2014. The competition included an essay, open-ended interview competition and delivery of a prepared speech. Although Chaffey High will be back and ready to defend their academic decathlon title next year, Mercado says there’s no guarantees. “You go year to year,” he said. “We’ve got schools and coaches around the district that have had a lot of success. Any given year, any one of them could emerge as the champion.” Chaffey now advances to the state Academic Decathlon competition in Sacramento on March 20-23, 2014.
 
Editor’s Note: As it did last year, the Alumni Association will be donating $5000 to assist the Academic Decathlon teams in expenses associated with the State competition in Sacramento.