By Mike Stanford, copy editor
DECA came away from the state tournament March 10-12 in Rosemont with a record-breaking eight qualifiers for the international competition in Nashville, Tennessee this April.
Among those advancing are sophomores Grace Kho; junior Kate Ponzi; and seniors Jonathan Ampalloor, Jacob Lomazov, Katy Ryan, Evan Beer, Mercedes Walter and Zach Hittie, who was also the Illinois state champion in Automotive Services Marketing. Seniors Sam Brown, Shannon Smith and Krzys Chwala also placed in the top 10 in their respective events.
Each student had to clear four hurdles in order to place well. The first was the “cluster exam” a test related to their events, which can range from marketing to finance. The second was the economics test, which was the same for all students in attendance.
The final two challenges were the role play exercises in which students had a limited amount of time to prepare to present a solution to a problem in front of a judge.
For example, Ampalloor, who was competing in Human Resources Management, had to grapple with an office politics dilemma. The CEO had fired the vice-president and brought in a replacement from the outside, and Ampalloor had to find a way to reunify the office.
According to coach Paul Hennig, the key to success at DECA is surviving the four-competition gauntlet. Consistent performance is necessary to advance to internationals.
For Ampalloor, this will not be his first international competition; he qualified last year for the conference in Orlando, Florida.
Ampalloor believes the largest difference between state and internationals in the scale of the tournament. The setting is more professional and much larger.
Hennig agrees and also says that 16,500 students from places as far as Germany will be in Nashville this year.
The events will be the same as they were at state and regionals, but the competition will be much stiffer. However, Hennig believes the most important feat has already been accomplished.
“[If] you get there… , that’s big,” Henning said. “If they come home with any top award or anything, that would just be icing on the cake.”