University High School (Fresno)

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University High School
University High School logo
School Founded 2000
Team Established 2002
History University High School has won the Small School E-Nationals sixteen times
City Fresno, California
Team Colors Red, Black, Gold
Principal Jeffie Hickman
Head Coach Sean Canfield
Associate/Other Head Coach(es)
National Championships 16, (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024) (Small School E-Nationals)
State Championships None (Small School 15 times: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024)
Regional/County Championships 12, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024
Region/County Location Fresno
Highest Finish Small School E-National Champions (16 times; 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024) 4th In Division I at California State 2022
School Website {{{website}}}

University High School Academic Decathlon—A Quick Rise to Excellence

BACKGROUND UHS was founded in the fall of 2000, a new school to start a new millennium. Located on the campus of California State University, Fresno, the school was the brainchild of a Dean of the school of Arts and Humanities, at CSUF. The vision for University High School is to be a 9-12th grade charter high school on the campus of California State University Fresno where students will experience an accelerated college preparatory program with two years of Latin and the full inclusion of music theory and performance. The school was envisioned to have about 100 students for each grade level, with a maximum enrollment of about 400 students. In its second year of operation, the school hastily formed its first Academic Decathlon team. With little preparation and with a team consisting of only eight students (four freshmen and four sophomores) the team managed to perform well enough to take home 10 individual medals and move up from the lowest division of competition (Division III) to Division II for the following year.

2002-2003 Several new developments took place that saw a substantial rise in the fortunes of the UHS Academic Decathlon program. A new teacher and former long-time coach from Clovis West, Sean Canfield, joined the staff. With fifteen years of experience and plenty of success at his former school including a county championship, four trips to the state finals, and two 7th Place finishes at the state competition, Canfield brought a lot of know-how to get the program going. Additionally, UHS was fortunate in gaining two transfer students from out-of-town who proved to be very crucial in bringing the quick rise to success that UHS was about to experience—Doug Witt and Stephen Ho. Both were Honors students, and both would become a very effective 1-2 punch for the team. Along with returning team members Anthony Calloway and Noreen Clark, an effective nucleus was formed. Rounding out the team were Alex Early, John Dawson, Peter Guekguezian, Emmanuel Orjuela, and Joseph Sample. Consisting entirely of juniors, the team pulled several huge surprises at the county competition. Its team score increased by over 12,000 points from the previous year, from 25,233 to 37,646. The team won the Most Improved Team Award, finished 3rd in the Super Quiz, first in Division II, and 3rd overall in the County. Finally, Stephen Ho shocked the competition by winning the Dean’s Medal for highest overall individual score, with a total of 8,471 points. The UHS Academic Team had arrived.

BECOMING A POWER: 2003-2004 After the success of the previous year, interest in the UHS Academic Decathlon increased tremendously. The team had seven of its nine members return for this year, and two new members, juniors Carson Baucher and Erin Wichert rounded out the team. The dedication and work ethic of the team increased tremendously, and as such, UHS was poised to be the first team in four years to seriously challenge the then 7-time defending county champion Edison High. Unfortunately for UHS, Edison also had a tremendous team—arguably its greatest ever, and as such, Edison won the county for the 8th time in a row with a staggering score of 48,161 points to University’s 45,622. University still had quite a few accomplishments. Besides finishing 2nd, Stephen Ho again was the top scorer in the county with 8,912 points. This was the highest individual score in the nation that year at the regional level. Additionally, Noreen Clark and John Dawson had two of the top three speeches in the County, with Dawson scoring a perfect 1,000. The team also finished second in the Super Quiz, and won 30 individual medals. Most importantly, the team qualified for the state championship and performed quite well. Although its score dropped slightly to 45,473 points, the team still finished 9th in the state and won 11 individual medals. For a school of less than 400 students, and with more than ten percent of the senior class belonging to the Academic Decathlon team, this was quite an accomplishment.

REBUILDING YEARS 2004-2005 With seven seniors graduating, including four whom had scored over 8,000 points (Stephen Ho, Doug Witt, John Dawson and Peter Guekguezian) and 16 years of combined experience, this proved to be a rebuilding year. With a much less experienced team consisting of seven seniors, one junior, and one sophomore, the Honors and Scholastics scores dropped significantly, but ironically, the Varsity scores actually improved from the previous year. Still, the UHS team was noticeably weaker, and once again, Edison had another power-house team. Although UHS managed to place second again in the County and in the Super Quiz, Edison easily won the competition with an even higher score than the previous year, 48,529 to 42,524. Initially, it looked like UHS had missed out on the eighth and final wild-card spot, but two weeks before the state competition, Monterey County dropped out, and UHS was allowed to take its place. With but two weeks of preparation, the team went all out, and managed to increase its score by over 450 points, raising it to 42,992, winning four individual medals and placing 14th in the state.

2005-2006 Again, seven seniors graduated, and UHS fielded its youngest team since 2003 with five seniors, three juniors, and one sophomore. Although there were some high individual scores including Jiahui Lin’s 8,270, Qainat Khan’s 7,871, and Curtis Day’s 7,829, the overall team score dropped slightly to 42,414 points. This drop was enough to place UHS third in both the Super Quiz and the overall county standings, and thus, UHS did not qualify for the state championship.

RETURN TO THE STATE COMPETITION: 2006-2007 Despite having a young team the previous year, UHS had to again rebuild in that two of the non-seniors either chose not to continue or else were unable to participate. Thus, the 2006-2007 team only had two veterans on the team and three juniors along with four first-year seniors. Two-year member Qainat Khan placed third overall in the county for highest individual score with 7,851 points. Although the team score only improved about 100 points from the previous year—42,510—scores overall at the regional level were down that year, and UHS returned to the State Competition. Having narrowly missed attending the previous year, UHS was now poised to win the second Small School State Championship which it easily accomplished. UHS was now in uncharted territory, with its season extended deep into April to participate in the second annual Online National Finals for small schools. UHS managed to narrowly defeat defending champion St. John’s of Arizona by 144 points with a score of 31,470 points out of eight events (no speech or interview), thus winning it’s first of eight consecutive and current championships. Team members of the first championship team were as follows: Kevin Chen, Qainat Khan, Trevor Soma, Jillian Fruehe, Vitaliy Goncharenko, Lena Yarbrough, Greg Austin, Joseph Bishop, and Kieran Kelly.

2007-2008 Amazingly, though UHS has a 60:40 girl/boy ratio, the UHS team this year consisted entirely of boys. Two years earlier, the split was 5 girls, 4 boys. With seven seniors and two juniors, the team scored very well at the scrimmage, and improved its score at the county competition by nearly 2,000 points over the previous year to 44,472. Again, however, Edison had another outstanding team, and won the competition with a score of 48,257 points. Senior Kevin Chen was the top individual scorer in the County with 8,488 points, and the team qualified again for the state competition. The next few weeks however, were to be quite challenging in that one student each from the Honors, Scholastic and Varsity divisions was unable to participate at the state competition. Fortunately, none of the three were counters, but it was still quite sobering to enter the state competition as the defending state and national small school champion with but six students. Additionally, Hallmark Charter, a fairly new charter high school in Fresno County with an even smaller student population had recently made great strides and was also competing in its first state championship. The UHS team managed to increase its county score by 326 points which was just enough to narrowly finish ahead of Hallmark Charter at the state for its second consecutive state championship. Although the UHS team was still only able to compete with six students in the virtual nationals, the team won the competition going away with a score of 34,514 points and a margin of 2,500. Junior David Matsushita scored 7,100 points in only eight events, and was clearly on a 9,000-point pace, thus attaining the distinction of being the top-scoring student in the virtual competition that year. This year also witnessed the first annual Medium School Virtual National competition, and UHS’s score would have won in that competition too. The six students won a total of 31 medals and were clearly the top of the competition.

BECOMING A POWER, PART II: 2008-2009 The team began the year with a lot of potential, but with potential shortcomings. One very talented senior Scholastic had serious health problems and had to drop off the team, leaving the Scholastics with only two competitors. This development took place after the November scrimmage, and just before the December deadline for submitting the team roster to the county coordinator. Fortunately, junior Nathan Matteson enthusiastically joined the team, and proved to be a great addition. The team turned-out to be the second youngest team since Canfield had become coach with 4 seniors, 4 juniors, and 1 sophomore. The scrimmage score, while good, was 1,000 points below the previous year, with both Hallmark Charter and Edison finishing ahead of UHS. Over the winter break, however, the team really came into its own with determined studying and hard work. The County competition turned out to be the closest competition in nearly twenty years. UHS reached a new milestone in winning its first Super Quiz competition, and for the second year in a row, and fourth time in six years, had the top scoring student. Erin Yeagle took home the Dean’s Trophy with 8,538 points. The team won 32 individual medals, but fell just short to Edison by 577 points with a score of 45,515. The state competition was a triumph for UHS. A new team score was set with 45,947 points, and the team was third in the relay portion of the Super Quiz, answering 56/60 questions correctly. Finally, the team placed 10th overall, and won its third straight small school championship. In the Virtual competition, although scores nationally were down, UHS increased its margin of victory to 3,100 points. David Matsushita again was the top scorer, and the team won 38 medals. All three Honors students—Albert Chang, David Matsushita and Erin Yeagle—finished as the top 3 Honors students, Scholastics Nathan Matteson and Alex Peterson finished 1st and 3rd, and Varsity Jared Rorabaugh finished 2nd.

EIGHT IS A CHARM: 2009-2010 With five returning members from Team I, and an outstanding returning member from Team II, UHS was poised to finally win the Fresno County competition. Without a doubt, this was the most dedicated, hard-working team that UHS had ever fielded, and in the end, finally triumphed in the County competition, winning it with a score of 47,744 points—592 ahead of Edison. The fact that Edison had fielded such a strong team (it won the Super Quiz, UHS took 2nd) made the victory all the more satisfying. The team won 42 individual medals; Eric Hendey was the top-scorer in the County with 8,498 points, with Albert Chang finishing a close second. Nathan Matteson was the top Scholastic in the county, and Jared Rorabaugh was not only the top Varsity, but achieved the rare feat for a Varsity by scoring over 8,000 points. Rounding out this great team were Sophomore Tiffany Cao (Honors, 7th highest in the County), Junior Taylor Barry (Varsity, 5th highest in the County), and Seniors Carolynn Jimenez (Scholastic, 6th highest in the County), Richard Schneider (Scholastic, 4th highest in the County) and Wyatt Stevens (Varsity, 4th highest in the County). At the state competition, the team finished 2nd in the Super Quiz Relay, answering 57/60 questions correctly, 3rd overall in the Super Quiz, 5th overall in the state, and for the fourth year in a row, won the Small School championship. The team won 18 individual medals, besting its previous high mark of 11 set in 2004. In the Virtual competition, the team set new records: medals won (42); and overall team score of 35,696 points in eight events. Eric Hendey and Albert Chang finished 1st and 2nd as top Honors students, Nathan Matteson finished as the top Scholastic student for the second year in a row, and Jared Rorabaugh and Wyatt Stevens finished 1st and 2nd as the top Varsity students.

Performance Chart[edit]

Historical Scores and Rankings
Year Regionals Score Regionals Rank State Score State Rank Small E-Nats Score (8 Events) Small E-Nats Rank
2024 42,432.5 1 40,672.2 9 32,468.7 1
2023 43,438.4 1 44,043.3 6 33,468.8 1
2022 43,306.2 1 43,387.7 4 33,060.8 1
2021 43,093.5 1 43,638.1 11 30,780.4 1
2020 43,202.9 1 35,938.9 20 - -
2019 44,829.1 2 44,189.8 16 32,969 1
2018 46,121.0 1 47,363.7 14 35,959.6 1
2017 45,229.1 1 41,669.6 30 DNQ DNQ
2016 47,670.1 1 47,789.2 10 36,306.8 1
2015 47,908.3 1 45,963.5 11 34,834.3 1
2014 44,052.3 2 44,145.3 14 31,655 1
2013 46,579.6 1 44,232.5 8 33,423 1
2012 46,304.9 1 47,105.2 6 35,061 1
2011 44,418.6 2 44,745.4 10 33,575 1
2010 47,744.4 1 47,443.7 5 35,696 1
2009 45,514.9 2 45,947.4 10 34,237 1
2008 44,473 2 44,798.3 14 34,514 1
2007 42,511 2 40,713.3 20 31,470 1
2006 42,412.9 3 DNQ DNQ - -
2005 42,524.6 2 42,992.4 13 - -
2004 45,622.4 2 45,472.4 9 - -
2003 37,658 3 DNQ DNQ - -