LOWELL | Lowell High School finished second - the school's closest second-place finish in the Large School Division - at the Indiana Academic Decathlon State Finals held Feb. 8 and 9 at Purdue University, defeating every other Northwest Indiana school in route to runner-up honors to perennial nemesis Martinsville High School.
"We came much closer (to Martinsville) than at any time while I've coached. I'll just see that as progress," said longtime LHS coach Joseph Gianotti.
As a team, Lowell won state championships in four subject areas, essay, history, art and interview.
The Red Devils were paced by junior Baylee Bunce, whose score of 7,348 represented the highest overall individual total. Bunce won four subject area medals (out of 10) including gold in art and history, in route to her title as Academic Decathlon Honors Division State Champion.
"Each Lowell decathlete had a huge day," added Gianotti. In addition to Bunce, seniors Mikayla Blievernicht and Emily King finished third in the varsity and scholastic divisions, respectively. Blievernicht won five subject area medals, including gold in art, speech, and interview, while King won three, with a gold in the interview category.
Dakota Pociask, who lead Lowell at KV Regional competition, finished fourth in the ultra competitive honors division with the second highest overall score on the LHS team.
Emma Turner won two medals, Katie Wilkey won three, and Maureena Miller won silver in art. Shanya Turner, team co-captain, finished fourth in science, history, and economics.
"In addition to Bunce’s outstanding performance, a highlight of the day was Eli Ceiga’s speech, chosen for the coveted speech showcase," Gianotti said. One hundred and eighty decathletes gave prepared speeches on Friday evening, and the judges chose just six to be performed in front of a packed Purdue Loeb Playhouse on Saturday.
"Eli’s speech, about the natural healing powers of the dandelion, brought down the house," Gianotti added. "Funny and informative, he received a rousing ovation."
Martinsvile will represent Indiana at the U.S, Academic Decathlon National Finals in Minneapolis, Minn. in April, while Lowell will represent Indiana in the USAD Medium School Online Competition.
Small School Division state champion North Judson-San Pierre High School will represent Indiana in the USAD Small School Online Competition, and third-place Carmel HS will represent Indiana in the USAD Large School Online Competition.
The rest of the Large School placings have Crown Point High School in fourth; Homestead High School, of Fort Wayne, in fifth; Chesterton High School placing sixth; New Palestine High School finishing seventh; Portage High School placing eighth' Highland High School capturing ninth and La Porte Hiugh School finishing 10th.
Following North Judson-San Pierre, of North Judson, in the ASmall School Divison are Reitz Memorial High School, Evansville, second; Andrean High School, Merrillville, third; Kankakee Valley High School, Wheatfield, fourth; La Lumiere School, La Porte, fifth; New Prairie High School, New Carlisle, sixth; John Glenn High School, Walkerton, seventh; Madison Consolidated High School, eighth; New Haven High School, ninth; and Gavit High School, Hammond, 10th.