LAKE CRYSTAL — “Shock” is what both Lake Crystal coach Billy James and student Michael Coates felt when Coates’ name appeared as the winner of a bronze medal at the national Academic Decathlon competition in Minneapolis this weekend.
James completely believed in Coates’ talent. But in a pool of about 500 competitors from across the country, a third-place finish for Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial is extremely rare, he said.
“For us to get even one is fortunate,” James said.
Academic Decathlon pits nine-member teams against each other in a battle of intellect involving 10 different subjects. They were tested in areas such as art, math, science and literature, and they gave speeches and interviews to the judges.
Medals are awarded in each subject, and Coates won his award in the interviewing category, earning 985 points out of a possible 1,000.
“I was in shock,” said Coates, a junior. “I saw my name up on the projector and my heart stopped. After I saw my name, I turned back to the rest of my team, and they were yelling my name, and they were extremely excited. I was so surprised.”
James said California’s curriculum has a class dedicated to Academic Decathlon, and the state’s competitors usually scoop up most of the medals. Two Los Angeles charter schools took first and second places overall this year.
“California is the state to be reckoned with,” he said.
Coates said he never even imagined medaling at nationals.
“It’s really an honor to medal at that high of a competition and to become the second student in school history to ever medal at nationals,” he said.
LCWM students Ethan Anderson and Lucas Hesser also won $250 scholarships for scoring the most points on the team and being voted most valuable team member, respectively. Other team members included Ryan Roberts, Mackenzie Bade, Autumn Johnson, Kelsey Sorensen, Mason Jones and Michael Graham.
LCWM and St. Peter also did well at the state competition in February. St. Peter took first and LCWM took second.