Winners of various regional competitions and several wild card teams will compete at the California Academic Decathlon March 17-19 in Los Angeles. The winner of the state competition will compete at the U.S. Academic Decathlon April 26-29 in San Antonio. Lisa M. Sodders, (818) 713-3663 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Hundreds of high school students from across Southern California squared off Saturday for the Academic Decathlon scrimmage tests, the first step on a path that could lead to a national championship. Students from Los Angeles Unified School District, Ventura County, Los Angeles County and area private schools took the seven multiple-choice tests in everything from art to economics in preparation for regional competitions in January and February. “It gives me more of a sense of what it’s going to be like in February,” said Taft High School student Monica Schettler, 17, of Tarzana, a first-time decathlete who took the tests at Canoga Park High School. Although the scrimmages do not officially count in the competition, many coaches use the results to select the final nine members of their competition team. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Cliff Ker, LAUSD Academic Decathlon coordinator, said he expects to have 60 teams in regional competition, including Northridge Academy High School, which opened last year on the campus of California State University, Northridge, and doesn’t yet have a senior class. Connie Semf, Northridge Academy’s principal, said the school is still developing extracurricular activities for its students, but made an Academic Decathlon team a priority. “I’ve worked with Academic Decathlon for the last 15 years, and it builds character and teaches the kids so many qualities of teamwork and confidence and how to work under pressure to succeed,” Semf said. The rigorous 10-subject decathlon continues to gain in popularity in Southern California, in part because the region has dominated the national competition. California has won 12 of 24 national competitions, more than any other state. Eight of those victories have gone to LAUSD schools, including last year’s national champion, four-time winner El Camino Real High School of Woodland Hills.