AcDec team’s regional performance adds up to state competition

The Gretna High School Academic Decathlon team will advance to the state competition based on its performance at regional competition Saturday. Pictured here, from left: Dylan Roberts, Zach Keller, Will Bredensteiner, Jacob Mann, JJ Jungjohann, A.J. Cotton, Jr., Austin Hillman, Thomas Matya, Ella Weaver and Trent Zimmerman.

Gretna High’s Academic Decathlon team has advanced to state competition after finishing third at Saturday’s regional competition where all 10 team members earned medals.

The achievement meant even more to the team members, who competed in the Large School Division for the first time due to enrollment increases.

“This was the first time we competed in the large division, and we were extremely happy with the results,” team member Thomas Matya said.

Matya led the team as top scorer and earned seven medals: second in Literature, second in Art, first in Music, second in Math, first in Economics, second in Super Quiz and first as Top Team Scorer.

The national Academic Decathlon program challenges high-school students with individual events, or tests, in the areas of art, economics, literature, music, mathematics, economics and science with a team Super Quiz at the end of the competition. The competition has a theme each year, and this year’s theme is India. Questions focused on India in each of the areas, such as India’s economics or its literature. At the state level, the competition also includes speech, interview and essay events. Nebraska held seven regional competitions in which 46 schools competed for the chance to go to the state finals. The top six teams in each division advance to the state level. Gretna competed at Omaha Central High School with Omaha Benson, Omaha Burke Creighton Prep, Omaha Central, Kearney and Omaha Northwest.

In addition to Matya, each of the team’s other members also earned medals at the regional competition.

Zach Keller (Honors): second in Science, third in Math, second in Super Quiz.

Jacob Mann: (Honors): second in Super Quiz.

Trent Zimmerman (Alternate Honors): first in Math, third in Economics.

Ella Weaver (Alternate Honors): third in Literature, third in Music.

Will Bredensteiner (Scholastic): third in Math, second in Super Quiz.

Austin Hillman (Alternate Scholastic): second in Literature, second in Art, second in Music, second in Math, first in Economics and first in Science.

JJ Jungjohann (Alternate Scholastic): second in Economics, second in Science.

Dylan Roberts (Varsity): third in Math, second in Super Quiz.

A.J. Cotton Jr. (Varsity): second in Super Quiz.

The regional competition wrapped up with the Super Quiz, in which team members collaborate to answer questions with a time limit. Omaha Burke won the Super Quiz with Gretna and Omaha Northwest tied for second.

“It was difficult moving up to the large school division this year, but the students pushed each other to study and work hard toward the goal of making state,” said Rhonda Sparks, who coaches the team. “Qualifying for state validates all the hours they put into studying for the competition. The students are excited for the experience to compete in the large school division at the state level. It will be an experience they will never forget.”

The team will now turn its attention toward the state contest, which will be Feb. 19-20 at Creighton University.

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