Thomas Redding leads the Waukesha West academic decathlon team

Published on: 4/30/2013

Thomas Redding went out with a bang. One year after making a name for himself at the national academic decathlon championships by posting the highest mathematics score in the honors category, the Waukesha West senior was at it again.

He achieved gold medal in math and had the highest score (942.9/1,000) among all the decathletes at last weekend's competition held in Minneapolis.

Redding, who is at the top of his class and had a perfect score on his ACT, earned $750 in scholarship money for his overall score at nationals, another $250 as the highest-scoring member on the team and was voted team MVP.

"His talent and focus on the subject amazes me and everyone around him on a daily basis," said coach Vince Ricco, who is assisted by Amy Unti-Runnells. "There are not too many mathematical brains walking around the country like his."

His performance helped Waukesha West finish ninth overall among 51 high schools and second among the 17 Division II teams.

West accumulated 46,725.83 points, similar to its 46,768 points it had at last month's state competition when it was second to New Berlin Eisenhower.

West's national score, however, bested Eisenhower's 44,083.17-point total. The Lions, in their first trip to nationals, finished 14th overall and second among the 17 Division III schools.

Ricco added the team came into the competition about 2,500 to 2,700 points behind the teams from Arizona and Ohio in Division II. But he said West leapfrogged the Ohio team and came within 260 points of the Arizona squad.

"We have to be pleased with the fighting spirit we demonstrated," Ricco said. "Second place in Division II is never the goal but there are worse scenarios than finishing the year strongly, overtaking local and national rivals along the way and taking home a trophy."

West was also led by Thomas Redding's twin brother, Morgan, William Tyndall and Helen Schultz.

Morgan earned a bronze medal in music, while Tyndall did so in math and speech. Like Thomas Redding, Tyndall received a $750 scholarship for his overall score.

Schultz captured a silver medal for her speech.

Ricco praised Schultz, who he said has come a long way after not being about to get through a speech earlier in the year.

"I really think Helen is an example of what the decathlon is all about," Ricco said. "Her story is unique in personal circumstances but the story of academic decathlon helping a young man or woman to actualize all of their many talents is not."

Graduating seniors are the Redding twins, Tyndall, Elise Nelton, Jon Cook, Matt Thaviphon, Schultz and David Zsenak, a two-year alternate.

Nikhita Chawla and Joseph Wurm were also members of the nine-person team.

The 10 events that make up the decathlon are art, economics, interview, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, speech and Super Quiz Relay.

The ninth is a drop from its fourth-place finish last year and is the lowest during its 12-year run at nationals.

But there was more competition this year (51 schools vs. 32 in 2012) with states having the opportunity to bring two schools to the meet.

The Wolverines' top mark took place in 2002 when they won a national title in their first appearance.