Members of the Madison Central Academic Decathlon team celebrated their national title with a ceremony at school Tuesday. The team finished in first place in Division II in the national competition last week in Hawaii. Celebrating the win are from left, principal Austin Brown, Edith Mitchell, Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, team members Jackson Kojima, Avery Jordan, Hamza Patel, Thomas Welsch, Christine Anyamele, Daniel Ford, Vinny Udeshi, Leah Lester, MC Academic Decathlon Team Coach Debbye Reed;back row, team members Ryker Lackey, Joseph Branson, Mason King, Owen Draughn, Azmain Alamgir, Hong Chen, Sarah Meeks, Summer Caraway, Sara Butts and Lan Chen.
Members of the Madison Central Academic Decathlon team celebrated their national title with a ceremony at school Tuesday. The team finished in first place in Division II in the national competition last week in Hawaii. Celebrating the win are from left, principal Austin Brown, Edith Mitchell, Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, team members Jackson Kojima, Avery Jordan, Hamza Patel, Thomas Welsch, Christine Anyamele, Daniel Ford, Vinny Udeshi, Leah Lester, MC Academic Decathlon Team Coach Debbye Reed;back row, team members Ryker Lackey, Joseph Branson, Mason King, Owen Draughn, Azmain Alamgir, Hong Chen, Sarah Meeks, Summer Caraway, Sara Butts and Lan Chen.
Madison Central scholars have brought a national championship home from Hawaii.

For the second time since 2006, MC's team competing in the U.S. Academic Decathlon won first place and a national title in the scholastic competition's Division II. Competing in Honolulu last week, the team finished at the top of the division for smaller schools and in 10th overall in the standings for schools of all enrollment sizes.

"This is an extremely big deal," principal Austin Brown said at a small ceremony Tuesday welcoming the team back with their national trophy and banner. "They have represented Madison Central in a way we can all be proud of."

The team, which consists of nine members competing in 10 categories, scored 43,304.6 points out of a possible 60,000 to win first place in the division, over 1,300 points ahead of the second-place Wisconsin team. Team members received 17 individual medals for the highest scores in various categories.

Seven other team members, who competed as individuals, also scored high enough to receive medals but team sponsor Debbye Reed said those names and results have not yet been released by U.S. Academic Decathlon.

"How proud I am of this group," Reed said at Tuesday's school ceremony. "We were excited when we won. We're glad to bring back the title."

Madison Central is one of only a few schools in Mississippi competing in the Academic Decathlon. For competition purposes through the year, the team headed out of state to prepare for the Mississippi state championship, and eventually the national championship.

The team finished fifth in Texas - a perennial powerhouse state - in October so "I thought we might have a chance at nationals," Reed said. At a second round competition in Tennessee, Madison Central finished first.

Reed said the team didn't score as high at the Mississippi championship but team captain Joseph Branson and senior Avery Jordan, chosen by teammates as the most valuable player, rallied the rest of the troops to prepare for the competition in Hawaii.

"They deserve credit for our score increase of over 4,000 points," she said.

In the competition, decathletes take 30-minute multiple choice tests in the subjects of economics, music, language and literature, math, science and social science. Each team member also gives a planned four-minute speech and a two-minute impromptu speech and participates in an interview. The students took the art and essay portions of the test earlier in April before heading to Hawaii. The Academic Decathlon revolves around one subject each year, and this year it was World War II.

Senior Hamza Patel won a gold medal in mathematics. Winning the national title is "a pretty big deal," he said. "We didn't expect it, but this means a lot. We worked a lot through the year."

Members of different athletic teams at the school attended Tuesday's ceremony, which Brown acknowledged. "There are schools that are good at one or another (academics or athletics), but we're in a place where we've put it together statewide and nationally.

"This place is special academically, athletically, artistically because of what you do," Brown said.

Team members winning medals in the competition were: Sarah Butts, silver in essay, art and language/literature; Owen Draughn, bronze in music, language/literature and silver in science; Thomas Welsch, bronze in music and science, silver in language/literature and economics; Hazma Patel, gold in math and bronze in science; Vinny Udeshi, silver in art; Daniel Ford, silver in art; Sydney Stanard, silver in language/literature; Joseph Branson, bronze in language/literature and silver in economics.

The entire team won a silver in the Super Quiz competition.

Branson received a $250 scholarship for having the highest cumulative score on the Madison Central team and a $750 scholarship for having the highest cumulative score in Division II.

Other members of the Academic Decathlon team are: Azmain Alamgir, Christine Anyamele, Summer Carraway, Hong Chen, Lan Chen, Mason King, Jackson Kojima, Ryker Lackey, Leah Lester and Sarah Meeks.