Hendricken Decathlon team places 2nd in nationals

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On Sunday, the Bishop Hendricken Academic Decathlon team followed up their strong performance in the state competition with a second place finish in Division II on the national stage in Anchorage, Alaska.

“This is one of the greatest achievements in the history of our school,” said Hendricken’s president John Jackson.

The Hendricken team, which is in Division II for medium-sized schools, amassed a team total of 45,450 points out of a possible 60,000 points, led by team MVP Riley Chabot, who alone scored 8,697.3 points. They edged out 14 other teams to take second place in the division. Wilmont Union of Wisconsin was the only team to place above them in Division II, scoring 47,604 points. Hendricken’s performance also earned them sixth place out of all competing teams.

On May 19, Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello will recognize the team’s accomplishments and award $500 scholarships to all seniors who earned a gold medal at the state competition.

The team also garnered 16 medals in the competition. The medal winners are senior Riley Chabot with a bronze in music, silvers in math and literature, and a gold in science; senior Miles Temel with a bronze in social science and a silver in essay; senior Geoffrey Boyer with silvers in science and interview; senior Aidan Kendra with silvers in economics and science, and bronzes in music and art; senior Nathan Tomasso with a bronze in essay; senior Nicolas Bassi with a silver in essay; junior Ryan Brady with a gold in math; and senior Peter Cienki with a bronze in math.

Despite the medal count, the team was unsure of their placement going into the award ceremony.

Nicolas Bassi described the moments leading up to their name being called, saying, “When the placements were starting to be called, you could almost feel the tension in the air. Everyone was really anxious, and Sister [Carol Ann] had been tallying the medal count for us and the competition, and it didn’t look like anything was guaranteed. Then they started by calling up fourth place, and it’s not us. Then third place was called; still not us. At that point it was really reminiscent of last year when we came in fifth and missed placement by one spot. You could tell by everyone’s face that we thought we missed it again. Next thing you know, they call up ‘Bishop Hendricken High School- Rhode Island.’ We were ecstatic; all the work we had done this year was finally justified.”

Temel agreed, saying, “This victory provided us with a great feeling of satisfaction and closure. We had been working toward this end goal for almost a year and it was a great accomplishment. For those of us graduating, it was an amazing end to our decathlon careers.”

The national competition consists of 32 state winners from across the country, as well as 16 international teams. The schools are split into three divisions determined by school size, and each team is divided into three categories – varsity, scholastic, and honors – which is determined by each student’s GPA over the preceding two years. Each student is tested in the subjects of essay, science, social science, literature, economics, music and art. These seven categories are all centralized around the 2015-2016 theme of India. The students are also tested in the subjects of interview, speech and math. These three subjects do not follow the central theme of India.

The school and the team credit their coach, Sister Carol Ann Murray, for inspiring them to work as hard as they could.

Jackson said, “Sister’s dedication to this team has been unwavering.”

Sister Carol Ann was hopeful right after the state competition, saying, “Once we saw the state score, we knew we had a shot at placing at the national level, which Hendricken has never done. The kids worked very hard and it paid off in the end.” All nine of the students agreed that, despite her humble attitude, Sister Carol Ann deserves a lot of the credit.

The team, along with Sister Carol Ann, is expected to return to classes today.

Although the competition has put great stress on the competitors, the team feels closer than ever. Nathan Tomasso described the team, saying, “I’ve not had a more dysfunctional yet cohesive family that could do so much for each other.”

The team may be celebrating now, but one member, along with Sister Carol Ann, must begin to worry about next year. Junior Ryan Brady will be the only returning member next year, as eight out of the nine students are seniors. Brady says, “This was a great group of guys and I’m going to have to try to carry the same mentality we have to next year’s team.” Under Sister Carol Ann’s leadership and the experience of Brady, the new team will hope to repeat this year’s success.

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