"I was so excited I was jumping off the walls," said team member Azam
Mehdi, a 16-year-old junior at Burbank High. "We're finally here after so
much work. It's very fulfilling," he said.
Burbank High scored 45,011 points out of a possible 60,000 in the Feb.
5 scholastic competition, placing it behind first-place Palos Verdes
Peninsula High School, with 46,369 points, and the second-place finisher
from Rowland Heights, Rowland High School, which had 45,426 points. Palos
Verdes earned an automatic bid and Burbank High, Rowland High and Beverly
Hills High School, which ended up in fourth with 44,764 points, earned
wildcard spots in the state finals next month in Los Angeles.
John Burroughs High School scored 27,904 points to place 39th out of
the 40 schools that participated in the decathlon.
The final scores were announced Thursday at a luncheon at the Quiet
Cannon Country Club in Montebello.
Burbank High's Academic Decathlon team qualified for state competition
in 1998, taking eighth place. Last year, Burbank finished fourth in the
county competition and just missed an invitation to the state finals.
This time around student say they know what to expect.
"Even though I'm nervous about competing at state, I know we'll do
well," said senior T.J. Dong, 17.
"We know it's going to be harder so that's why we're going to try new
strategies of studying," he said.
Valerie Beidelman, who has been coaching Burbank High's decathlon
teams for more than a decade, said that although this year's team still
has to prove itself at the state finals, it takes satisfaction in
accomplishing its initial goal.
"It's like a dream come true and we just can't wait until we show our
stuff at state competition," Beidelman said.
In addition to its invitation to the finals, the Burbank team came
home with 47 medals and three trophies Thursday. Among the medals
awarded, Azam took first place among varsity competitors countywide and
Fabian Primera took third place in the same category. Burbank was awarded
trophies for first place in the northern region and second place in the