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The Quest for Medals Will Test Their Mettle : Education: The pressure is on the team from Torrance's West High School as they prepare to defend their Los Angeles County Academic Decathlon championship.


Floratos is keeping his eye on the competition, especially three-time state champion Beverly Hills High School. "They're always in the back of your mind," Floratos said. "And I'm very concerned about Mira Costa. They've been behind us, nipping at our heels every year."

But Richard D. Sholseth, coordinator of the county decathlon, thinks West High could be formidable again this year.

"They have such a marvelous coach. That's the secret ingredient," Sholseth said. "I'm very, very impressed with their strategy."

And Floratos speaks of his team members, past and present, with obvious pride.

Just this week, he received a letter from a former team member who is now at Stanford University and is confronted with reading hundreds of pages of literature each week.

The student wrote about how her decathlon background had given her a feeling of confidence. "She was saying she knows she can do it," Floratos said.

Academic Decathlon Some sample questions used by the West High School team to prepare for Saturday's academic decathlon:

1. Hair sprays are solutions of:

a) lacquer and solvents; b) aluminum chloride and solvents; c) plastics and solvents; d) para-aminobenzoic acid and solvents; e) all of the above.

2. If it's 6 a.m. at 15 degrees west longitude, what time is it at the prime meridian?

a) 5 p.m.; b) 5 a.m.; c) 7 a.m.; d) 7 p.m.; e) noon.

3. Which of the following is not the lowest terrestrial point for that continent?

a) Dead Sea, Asia; b) Lake Assal, Africa; c) Caspian Sea, Europe; d) Chico Bajo, South America; e) Death Valley, North America.

4. In Thoreau's "Solitude," Thoreau makes the following analogy: Thoreau is to Walden, as earth is to:

a) sun; b) moon; c) solar system; d) Milky Way; e) Andromeda.

5. Which is not programmatic?

a) Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals"; b) Debussy's "La Mer"; c) Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony"; d) Strauss' "Don Quixote"; e) Beethoven's "Apassionata Sonata."


1. c) plastics and solvents

2. c) 7 a.m.

3. d) Chico Bajo, South America

4. d) Milky Way

5. e) Beethoven's "Apassionata Sonata"

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