The Ketchikan High School academic decathlon team welcomed an early start on its new season during a virtual practice meet this past weekend.
Typically, the AcDc season runs from December through February, according to Kayhi team coach Peter Stanton.
However, the Kayhi team participated in a practice meet on Friday and Saturday, starting their season a few weeks earlier.
But this year, the United States Academic Decathlon organization decided that the 2020-21 decathlon season would be conducted virtually due to COVID-19 complications.
The theme of this year's season is the Cold War, according to Stanton. During competitions, academic decathletes answer questions related to that topic in the fields of science, math, literature, art, economics, music and essays.
Kayhi's team had been practicing virtually since May — when lesson materials were released for teams to start studying — and began in-person team practices at the start of the new academic year.
The first practice meet of the new season was held on Friday and Saturday.
The event was hosted by the Irving Independent School District in Irving, Texas.
"They (Irving's school district) just figured that since they were going to do a virtual meeting, they may as well extend the invitation to the teams around the country," Stanton said during a Monday afternoon interview.
AcDc officials in Irving sent an invite to team coaches around the country, including school districts in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Arizona.
Three teams from Alaska participated, including Kayhi, Juneau-Douglas High School and the Juneau-based homeschool organization IDEA.
Stanton noted that the meet was not divided into "medium" and "small" school divisions.
The virtual meet included multiple-choice tests on the subjects of art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science and social science.
Three other typical AcDc events — essay, speech and interview — were not included in the practice meet, as the judges anticipated those types of events would cause technical problems.
Kayhi's team started taking their first four tests on Friday afternoon, and finished the last round of testing on Saturday morning.
"I think they felt pretty excited to be participating in something," Stanton said of his team. "It's earlier than we usually have any competition. Generally, it's December, January and February that we have events, but to do something in November was great."
Technologically, Stanton said "things went pretty smoothly for almost the whole time."
During one test session — with 800 students testing online at one time — the system slowed down and stopped working properly.
"We had that slow down for a while, they gave some extra time, and then they were able to re-set some things for some people," Stanton said.
Results were announced via Zoom on Saturday afternoon.
"Kayhi didn't win any medals, ribbons or plaques that were on offer from this practice meet, but that didn't surprise me since we were competing with extremely accomplished teams with multiple state and national titles, like Ohio's Oakwood High School, Arizona's Canyon Del Oro High School and many high-achieving schools from Texas," Stanton wrote to the Daily News shortly after the results were announced.
Stanton said that Kayhi's scores compared "favorably" to JDHS' competitors, although it was unfair to compare the two teams.
"Kayhi was competing with only honors and scholastic students, which hampered our overall score, and JDHS was competing with only honors students, which limited their total possible score even more."
According to USAD information, an honors decathlete is a student with a grade point average between 3.80 and 4.00. A scholastic competitor's GPA is between 3.79 and 3.20, and a varsity student's GPA is between 3.1 and 0.
A typical team will compete with three honors students, three scholastic students and three varsity students.
Stanton said that he told his team that what mattered from the recent meet is that a baseline was established for the remainder of the season.
"I had multiple decathletes tell me they felt like they turned a corner and felt newly motivated," Stanton commented.
The next meet will be a virtual regional competition between Kayhi, Craig and JDHS in mid-December.
Stanton also said that as of Monday, the state tournament will be held virtually in early March.
The following students placed in the top three among Kayhi competitors, according to results compiled by Stanton:
• Matthew Nutt placed first on the Kayhi team in economics and science, second in math, and third in literature, art and social science.
• Evelyn Nutt placed first in math and music, second in economics and literature, and third in science and art.
• Franchezca Correa took second place in science and social science, and third place in math and economics.
• Sarah Short placed first in literature and art, and third in economics.
• Austin Ronquillo placed third in math and music.
• Logan Cope-Powell claimed second place in art.
• August Cooper took second place in music and third place in science.
• Jacob Pattison claimed third place in music.