Westside Union’s team of nine sixth-grade students scored big, placing second overall nationwide for seventh grade at the Academic Pentathlon and scoring First in the Super Quiz. This comes after beating all statewide teams last month.

The team’s win is a classic underdog story, of local kids punching well above their weight and beating almost every other school in the country a grade above them.

The Nationwide competition was held at Garden Grove, from May 18-20.

The structure of the competition covered five subjects, social science, literature, fine arts, mathematics, and science.

Students are tested on each subject and then are put to the test in a super quiz. The team is split into three parts to compete in three divisions based on GPA – Varsity, Scholastic, and Honors.

This year’s theme focused on the American Revolution and the New Nation.

Tammi Schultz, the coach of the Westside Union Pentathlon team for nine years has been working the sixth-graders through more than 1000 pages of material, some of which the kids won’t see until high school.

The nine sixth-grade students have been training every day since November, with two hours a day at least dedicated to their preparation. It paid off, and not just in life lessons learned.

The students were also the first Merced County team in nationals, and the first from our city, and county to win second place in a grade level above their own at nationals.

In an interview, Max Menefee a student on the team said that even after becoming the state champions “we still didn’t think we were going to beat these [better-resourced] other schools”.

Mrs. Menefee, Max’s mom, added on with praise for their coach, “She has a way of teaching it to them so they can retain it… she’s amazing, if all of our teachers were like that, we’d have some incredibly smart kids throughout the district.”

In a statement provided to the Express from Superintendent Mark Marshall, he said “I am so proud right now. Westside Union’s Pentathlon Team is outstanding and one of the best in the state! Winning has become the standard for this group. They continue to make a positive impact on the school and the school district with their successes.”

Westside Union beat all the teams in the state.

In addition to their achievement as a team, awards were given to the individual team members.

In the Honors Division, Max Menefee won silver in science, gold in social science, and bronze in fine arts.

Rachel Betschart was rewarded with a bronze in social science while Siena Halloran won a bronze in fine arts.

In the Scholastic Division Reese Betschart received a bronze in Social Science and gold in literature.

Another winner was Ward Saeb. Saeb received a bronze in science, gold in social science, gold in fine arts, silver in mathematics and gold for Overall for Scholastics.

In the Varsity Division, Delia Perez was awarded a bronze in social science. Jorge Olivares received a bronze in social science, silver in fine arts, silver in literature, and silver overall for Varsity. Audrey Lugo was celebrated with a participant award.

Congratulations goes to all students; Max Menefee, Coach Tammi Schultz, Delia Perez, Jorge Olivares, Audrey Lugo, Rachel Betschart, Siena Halloran, Reese Betschart, Ward Saeb, and Angelisa Begley on their achievement.

Even if one student didn’t attain awards, they should all be mentioned for the team effort achievement of perseverance and dedication. “We all worked very hard, and it was a fun year… we’re all very good friends now.” Max Menefee said regarding his team.

Javier Powell