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Cazenovia Academic Decathlon takes first at state competition

Last weekend was exciting -- and exhausting -- for Cazenovia High School students as they competed in the New York State Academic Decathlon Championships on March 13 and 14.

The team placed first at states and will now advance to nationals, which will be held in Memphis, Tenn. in April.

"It's a pleasure to represent New York State at nationals," said Alexander Shepard, a medalist in the scholastic division.

The weekend competition was held for its second year at SUNY Brockport in Western New York and began with speech and interview portions Friday evening, the first of 10 academic subjects the students would be faced with.

Points for each of the 10 segments of the competition, seven of which are written exams, are accumulated throughout the two-day contest and tallied Saturday. Students with the three highest scores received gold, silver and bronze medals for their work.

According to state director Barry Jones, multiple medals are awarded for students receiving identical scores because there are no tiebreakers and each student deserves medals for their hard work and aptitude in each subject.

Frederick Koennecke received nine medals, including a gold medal for overall score. According to Koennecke, music is his best subject in Academic Decathlon and he received a gold medal in the subject. Along with studying for his high school classes and preparing for competition, he said he also studies about 10 hours each week at home for Academic Decathlon.

For others considering joining the team, or even wanting more information about the program, Koennecke said they should just "do it."

"It's always hard for us to recruit," he said.

Brendan Hartnett, the youngest member of the team, joined last year and knew about the program because his siblings competed in previous years.

Coach Susan McKillop has been with the team since 1996 and said this is the fifth year in a row Cazenovia will be representing New York's finest decathletes at the national competition.

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