National Title Secured by Hughson High Academic Decathlon Team


Paul Michaelis

2019 Hughson High Academic Decathlon Team

The PAW News staff

The Hughson High Academic Decathlon team competed in the USAD Medium School National Academic Decathlon Competition virtually April 26th on the Hughson High campus and learned today that they had captured the National Championship title.  


The team, led by teacher Paul Michaelis, competed in eight different events: Literature, Music, Science, Art, Mathematics, Economics, Essay Writing, and Social Science. The focus of the event was the 1960s and the literary piece studied was the novel Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard.


The team made up of Nathaniel Blazzard, Madeline Keo, Monica Yup Chinchilla, Monica Hollcraft, Chase “Murphy” Phillips, Kylee Sullivan, Austin Hoach and Mercedes “Sadie” Padilla dedicated hours and hours both in class and in personal time in preparation for the test.


“Any free time I had I would study,” said senior Austin Hoach. “I would even study at track meets and before bed just to refresh my memory and make sure I knew the materials.”


The road to the National Championship wasn’t an easy ride for Hughson because they had to secure the win for both the county and state competitions to progress forward to this level.


“It was a lot of studying,” said senior Murphy Philips. “It was hard because it is the same materials over and over again that you are studying, so it is hard not to feel burnout, but I kept reviewing to make sure that I knew the materials and the key terms.”


To announce the win, teacher Paul Michaelis seemed to almost playfully trick the kids and made them do a double take to make sure that they heard him correctly.


“Mr. Michaelis said we are going to study philosophy today and as he prepared to start teaching the lesson he casually said that we were the National Champions and he just announced it,” said Hoach. “Then he made us still work on philosophy, but I can barely concentrate on anything.”


Following the announcement, students got right back to work taking only a spare moment to take in the win.


“It means a lot to get this big title coming from a small school like Hughson High,” said Hughson High Academic Decathlon Participant Nathaniel Blazzard. “We worked really hard to achieve success and we got the job done.”  


Paul Michaelis and the 2019 HHS Academic Decathlon team are the only school in Stanislaus County to ever secure a national win.


“I’m incredibly proud of my students, both the team members and the alternates,” said Hughson High Academic Decathlon Adviser Paul Michaelis. “It takes a lot of time and effort to be a good team in AcaDec, let alone a national champ.”


The team not only did well as a whole but individually earned academic accolades in the following areas:


Monica Hollcraft: SILVER Division Medium Literature Scholastic, GOLD Division Medium Art Scholastic, and BRONZE Division Medium Economics Scholastic.


Murphy Phillips: GOLD Division Medium Music Scholastic, BRONZE Division Medium Art Scholastic, and BRONZE Division Medium OVERALL in the Nation for Scholastic.


Austin Hoach: GOLD Division Medium Literature Varsity, GOLD Division Medium Mathematics Varsity, BRONZE Division Medium Economics Varsity and BRONZE Division Medium OVERALL in the Nation for Varsity.


Sadie Padilla: SILVER Division Medium Literature Varsity, GOLD Division Medium Art Varsity, SILVER Division Medium Economics Varsity GOLD Division Medium Essay Varsity, BRONZE Division Medium Social Science Varsity and GOLD Division Medium OVERALL in the Nation for Varsity.


Monica Yup Chinchilla: SILVER Division Medium Literature Honor and SILVER Division Medium Art Honor.


Only a little of the advisor behind it all is shown through student successes and wins, but Paul Michaelis who helped lead this team to victory was key to their victory.


“Mr. Michaelis is such a good teacher. He is a knowledgeable teacher and was really invested in this class. He put in so much time, money, and effort into getting us where we needed to be,” said junior Mercedes Padilla.  “I am excited to take it again next year. I am also nervous about our seniors leaving because they are so strong, but I am excited for the fresh blood that will be coming into the class.”


Now that the national competition is over the team is looking to jump right into next year’s category which is “In Sickness and Health.”


“I’m really looking forward to next year and I am hopeful that we will be able to replace the high caliber talent that we are losing with this year’s seniors,” said Michaelis.