By CLAIRE ST. JOHN
Eight months of daily studying paid off for Tioga High School's Academic Decathlon team members when they took second place in their division at the state competition last weekend.
The eight-member team took more than 20 medals back to Groveland, chalking up the seventh successful year at the competition.
"We did very well," said Charlene Wrighton, the team's coach and a Tioga teacher. "This is good news for the kids, but to me, I'm always trying to get the community to see how great Tioga is."
Although the Tioga team has been studying every day since July, holding week-long study sessions before competitions only interrupted for extracurricular activities or emergencies, they didn't stop when they reached Modesto, site of this year's state competition.
"They flashed flashcards all though dinner," Wrighton said. "Every meal, every single downtime. They work harder than anyone I know."
Late nights were spent in the team's hotel hallways, flashing study cards on subjects like economics, math, literature, art and music, preparing to compete against huge schools from Los Angeles and Oakland.
Tioga placed 26th out of 50 schools statewide, beating out Oakdale High and Davis Senior High, among others.
"When you look at it that way, we beat pretty gigantic schools," Wrighton said. "We were just amazed at that."
Wrighton attributes the team's success to the group dynamic that formed among the students.
"That last week together, we were so close," Wrighton said.
"The girls in the group got makeovers together and learned to cope with stress by rubbing each others' feet.
"This was an unusual group because we did a lot of talking about what we're grateful for," Wrighton said. "We did a lot of team building."
After the competition, team members were exhausted and elated, Wrighton said.