Oakwood High School academic team looks again to defend U.S. title

The Oakwood High School academic decathlon team is defending of a Division III national title.

Actually, it’s the ninth straight year the OHS team will be battling to keep a division countrywide crown, records show.

The competition is scored based on speeches, tests and interviews, Coach Lori Morris said.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Morris said of the United States Academic Decathlon Association® contest, a virtual event for the second straight year which begins today and runs through Saturday.

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“It seems mundane because they’ve had so much success,” she added. “But it’s a lot of work every year. It’s a full-time sport for these kids with the number of hours that they’ve been preparing.”

The competition will feature 48 U.S. teams, plus about 10 teams from China, according to Morris.

The USADA is a non-profit corporation founded in 1981 to promote “learning and academic excellence among students of varying achievement levels by developing and providing multidisciplinary academic competitions using academic decathlon curricula,” its website states.

Teams are split into four divisions by size of school. Oakwood’s highest finish across all divisions was second place in 2018 and 2019, records show. It has placed in the top five overall seven times since 2004, according to national academic decathlon data.

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Oakwood teams have won 12 straight Ohio titles, which requires a first-place finish among all divisions, Morris said.

This year’s nine-member squad includes Alex Baals Kall, Rebecca Blumer, Brian Fischer, Rohan Haack, Evan Hardern, Rohan Haack, Soren Kingston, Danny Vasconez and Elizabeth Yarbrough.

Haack, Kulka and Kingston all won Golden Eagle awards at state for the highest overall individual scores in their respective GPA divisions, according to the school district. Kingston was also the highest overall scoring student of the competition, officials said.

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At nationals, teams are judged on a different theme each year and the 2022 one is water, Morris said. Teams will examine that topic as it relates to issues such as social science, history, literature, economics, music, art and math, she added.

Oakwood’s team will compete via Zoom at the high school, Morris said.

“The kids would much rather prefer an in-person competition,” she added. “They much prefer the energy and the excitement of being around all of these other kids and doing the same competition in person…They miss the interaction with the other students who are competing in the same activities.”

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