High school academic team prepares for tourney

William Thompson

The Tucumcari High School Academic Decathlon team will be facing stiff competition at the state decathlon tournament in Belen, March 5 and 6, according to math instructor Dianna Manly, the team’s coach.

“We’ve got some real talent, but the big schools like Belen tend to do better in the state competition,” said Manly.

Although the team has nine members and two alternates, there are especially high hopes for James Seymour, Travis Wilson and Amanda Arenas. All three of those students did well in regional competition.

Seymour, a senior, who won a gold medal in the interview competition, said he is hopeful about Tucumcari’s chances as a team.

“We’ve grown more confident. We’re getting together weekly and helping each other prepare,” said Seymour. “I, personally, don’t really have too many fears concerning the state decathlon.”

According to the team’s coach, the students will be tested in mathematics, science, economics, music, literature and art during the state decathlon.

“In addition to the testing and a “super quiz” on the Lewis and Clark expedition, the students will have to go before interviewers and present speeches, said Manly.

“They will have to give a prepared speech and an impromptu speech.”

Senior Amanda Arenas said she becomes really nervous when it comes to giving speeches.

“I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and pause if necessary,” said Arenas. “Then I just have to keep going.”

Conversely, freshman Dustin Russell said he is pinning his hopes on his ability to give a good speech.

“I think the speech competition will be my best hope for a medal. I’m thinking about doing a speech on heavy metal music, how it effects young people and adults,” said Russell. “I get a little nervous before giving a speech, but I always remember to eat something beforehand.”

Manly said that the students will have many tasks to fulfill in the music, literature and art categories.

“They will be shown, for example, a famous painting. They will have to analyze it to the judge’s satisfaction,” she said, “or they will have to listen to a piece of 19th century American music and analyze that.”

In addition, Manly said that the students are familiarizing themselves with the poetry of Longfellow and Whitman, and the novels of Willa Cather.

“Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop is one of the novels I know we will be asked about.”

Manly said her team wants to meet more than once a week now that they are heading to the state decathlon.

“After they did so well at regionals, they told themselves that if they study a little more they might be able to surprise some people at the state decathlon.”

In addition to Seymour, Wilson, Arenas and Russell, other team members include: Clay Beevers, Jamie Pender, Andrea Garcia, Lindsay Bakke, Samuel Hennig, Deanna Alvarez and Brandi Arenas.