THE ST. MONICA HIGH SCHOOL Mariners academic decathlon team finished as the overall runner up in the Southern California Private Schools competition by participating in Division 1 for the first time.

St. Monica High School’s academic decathlon team earned overall runner-up honors, its highest placing in the last four years, at the Southern California Private Schools Academic Decathlon competition Feb. 2.
The Santa Monica school’s team competed at the Division 1 level for the first time and defeated traditional decathlon powerhouses with enrollments three and four times its size in reaching the runner-up position.
Following divisional championships in 2010 (Division 4), 2011 (Division 3), and in 2012 (Division 2), the St. Monica team worked diligently for months in preparation for two days of the Division 1 contest that centered on the 2013 theme: Russia, coaches said.
Day one consisted of the subjective tests, essay, speech and interview portions of the competition, while the second phase consisted of the objective tests, including the oral “Super Quiz.”
At the awards ceremony, the St. Monica Mariners team, coached by Social Studies department chair Jeremy Nelson, received 53 individual medals and earned third place overall in the Super Quiz on their way to defeating 28 of 29 private school teams from all divisions. Seniors Ryan Klippel and Audrey Min earned second and third place individual overall honors, respectively.
Academic decathlon powerhouse Bishop Alemany High School took top honors in the overall competition this year. Teams from St. Francis High School in La Canada and Mater Dei High School in Orange County placed third and fourth in Division 1, respectively.
St. Monica High could next qualify to compete in the California Academic Decathlon State Championship in Sacramento in mid-March. As the team with the second highest point total at this year’s private school event, St. Monica’s overall score will be considered for inclusion into the state tournament if the team score is comparable to scores from schools in other counties across the state, coaches said.
High school academic decathlon teams generally consist of nine members, who are divided into three divisions based on grade point average: Honors (3.75–4.0 GPA), Scholastic (3.00–3.74 GPA), and Varsity (0.00–2.99 GPA). Each team member competes in all 10 events against other students in his or her division.