REAL WINNERS; STATE TITLE ACADEMIC FOR EL CAMINO.
El Camino Real High School of Woodland Hills captured its third consecutive California Academic Decathlon on Sunday and will return to the national finals in April.
El Camino Real has placed second in the national competition the past two years, but team members said they are more determined than ever to pick up first this time around.
``We're going to work as hard as possible,'' said Adi Zarchi, a 17-year-old senior who lives in West Hills. ``This year we hope we can do it.''
Coach Mark Johnson said his eight-member team has been committed to winning all along.
``We have a team that said, from Day One, we want to win this,'' Johnson said. ``They said we'll come in Saturdays and stay until 10 at night. We'll come in for 100 hours over Christmas vacation.''
Bruce Ngo, a 17-year-old senior, said he had no idea what he was getting into when he signed up, but soon learned that he had committed himself to companionship and teamwork.
``You either get to the point where you want to tear each other's heads off or you're a family. We're a family,'' Ngo said.
El Camino Real's score of 51,000 out of 60,000 possible points was a record for the state decathlon.
Moorpark High School in Ventura County placed second in the state competition, while Edison High School of Fresno County picked up third.
Fifty teams from around the state competed in the decathlon, which started Friday. High scorers from the Southland included Burbank High School, which came in eighth, and Simi Valley High School, ninth.
As in an athletic decathlon, the academic contestants endured 10 tough tests. There were written tests on art, math, science, social studies, language, literature and music.
Each student also wrote an essay, rehearsed and delivered a prepared speech and gave an impromptu speech during an interview.
The capper to the weekend competition had been the public portion of the Super Quiz on Saturday, when students answered questions before nearly 2,000 spectators. Garfield High School of Los Angeles won that portion.
But when results from the rest of the Super Quiz were tallied, El Camino Real came in first. The team will represent California in the United States Academic Decathlon April 24-26 in Providence, R.I.
The students on the El Camino Real team are Taimur Baig, Michael Beatty, Steve Chae, Nancy Fu, Ngo, Elana Pelman, Carina Yuen and Adi Zarchi.
The students on the Moorpark team are Kevin Chou, Alexandra Dove, Ajay Jayant, Valerie Lake, Nicholas Lange, Michael Liu, Vanessa Mancinelli, Navroop Mitter and Rebecca Wershba.
Photo: (Color) El Camino Real High's team, which will represent California in the national finals, celebrates winning the state's Academic Decathlon.
Gus Ruelas/Daily News