Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Lower Lake High wins county's Academic Decathlon

Lower Lake High Academic Decathlon team members Lanie Nolasco, Emily Riggs and Kate Lyons. Photo by John Lindblom.
LOWER LAKE "China and its influence on the World" was the subject of this year's Super Quiz in the Lake County Academic Decathlon. And, like that country's heralded Great Wall, Upper Lake High School's dominance was relegated to history on Saturday its eight-year reign in the county scholastic competition ended by an exuberant and well-prepared Lower Lake team.


Lower Lake captured trophies for both the Decathlon and Saturday's Super Quiz, team captain Kate Lyons said, by force of sheer determination.

"It was a lot of hard work and a lot of studying, cooperation from the teachers and help from the (team's three) alternates," Lyons said at the conclusion of the event at LLHS.

What single factor helped LLHS achieve its long-sought decathlon win? "I think it was determination – a lot of willpower and preparation," Lyons said.

"We had a really strong team and a lot of people who were really involved."

Looking back on her seven years as the LLHS coach, Nancy Harby recalled the "six straight years I've watched them (Upper Lake) walk away with the trophy," and could only describe the euphoria of finally winning, as, well, "indescribable."

"I'm really excited and proud of my children," said Harby, who appeared to sense an upset in the making in an interview with earlier last week.

The loss to Lower Lake was the only blot on an otherwise perfect record for ULHS coach Tina Moore, who is being succeeded by assistant Tiffany Larson after coaching the north county team for all eight years.

The task of perpetuating ULHS' dominance had put significant pressure on Moore's teams.

"It's nerve-wracking, actually. It's like we always gotta win here," Upper Lake junior Quinn Womacka confided as tension built in Saturday's Super Quiz.

The rivalry between the two schools has become so intense that both maintain two nine-member teams. To date, Clear Lake and Middletown, the other two high schools in the competition, have not been able to mount that level of enthusiasm for the test of brains. Kelseyville, the county's fifth high school, has not competed.

That could change.

"I'm not used to not doing well," said Middletown H.S. Principal Chris Heller in a faintly ominous tone.

In addition to Lyons, the No. 1 Lower Lake team was comprised of Emily Riggs, Emmalena Illiea, Manuel Pantoja, Anthea Tuley, Joe Riggs, Jared Focose, Jamie Walker and Kayla Huff, and alternates Lanie Nolasco, Charlie Barron and Loretta Garcia.

Lower Lake's No. 2 team members were Josh Salazar, Sean Perkins, Victoria Kursa, Shirley Barajas, Sherrie O'Neill-Jones, Suzie Carlsen, Chris Ingersoll, Ryan Johnston and Steven Negrette, and alternates Evan Kaniss and Cassie Martin.

LLHS' victory on Saturday qualified the school to compete in the state Academic Decathlon finals March 15-18 in Sacramento.

That will be a paradigm of a different pattern. In all the years Upper Lake has gone to the state competition it has won its division once against 16 similarly rural counties.

But to win the California championship the small schools must contend with the giants, such as Los Angeles schools with four-figure enrollment pools and strict, Decathlon-only study curriculums.

But that's for later. Saturday the mood was upbeat.

"They were a formidable opponent," Lyons said, echoing her coach's praise for Upper Lake. "It's hard to compete against them because they are a very skilled team. We had to work very hard this year to beat them."

E-mail John Lindblom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


To see a photo gallery of the Academic Decathlon, visit the gallery.


Editor's note: The full results of the Academic Decathlon, including student winners in the individual competitions, are being provided by the Lake County Office of Education, and will be published as soon as possible. We also welcome any additional pictures or video of the competition; e-mail them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll add them to our photo gallery.




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