Lourdes Central Catholic held a pep rally Monday for its nationally-ranked academic decathlon team.
Lourdes' teams have won Nebraska state championships in nine of the last 11 years, including a state-record six in a row.
The school has qualified a team for state competition in each of the 17 years it has participated in academic decathlon.
The team finished third in the nation last year in its division and is currently ranked 27th in the nation among all schools.
Coach Diana Harris said Lourdes is the smallest-enrollment school to compete in nationals and is ranked fourth in the national among small schools.
Attorney General Jon Bruning wrote to congratulate the team. “Please know that all Nebraskans are proud of your success and wish you the best of luck this week in Minneapolis,” he said.
The team is scheduled to leave for Minnesota at 7 a.m. Wednesday and will begin competition Thursday with speech and interviews including the theme topics of space exploration, the novel Doctor Zhivago, Russian architecture and the history of Russia.
The schedule includes objective tests and a super quiz on Friday and awards banquet on Saturday.
Team members are James O'Neil, Matt Martin, Katie O'Neil, Aaron Goodman, Sarah Warga, Taylor Heng, Courteney Juranek, Grant Welsh, Jake Harmel, Madeline DuBois and Nick Shawhan.
Coaches are Harris, Mary Ann Liesemeyer and Molly Reuland.
Harris said although the school graduated its top six students from last year's team, new students have filled in well.
“I don't know how it happens. I say that it can't happen every year, but each year it does happen because we have kids who desire knowledge and say, yes, I want to learn,” she said.
At a school pep rally Monday, coach Diana Harris said teams consist of A, B and C students.
She noted that academic decathlon success is not just a matter of assembling the smartest kids, but it's about students willing to put in the time and energy it takes to learn.