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Frontier High's Academic Decathlon competitor Darwin Barnes reacts after getting a correct answer during Saturday's annual competition at Bakersfield High School.

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Stockdale High's Academic Decathlon competitor Mohammed Aldamty shows off the Ultimate Mustache on his team's shirts to fans in the stands after getting a correct answer Saturday at Bakersfield High School.

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Stockdale High's Megan Parriott gives a smile after a correct answer to friends in the stands watching the annual Academic Decathlon, Saturday, at BHS.

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Bakersfield High's Aaron Blazer studies a question on the big screen Saturday at BHS during the annual Academic Decathlon competition. He was participating in a multiple choice contest.

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Academic Decathlon competitors from Bakersfield High School include Aaron Blazer, left..

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Darwin Barnes, competing with Frontier High's Academic Decathlon team, reacts before the quizzing begins Saturday at Bakersfield High School's gymnasium.

Stockdale High School retained its reign over the Kern County Academic Decathlon Saturday, winning first place for the second year in a row in the 34th annual scholastic competition.

The team will go on to represent Kern in the state finals next month in Sacramento.

Stockdale had faced off against 18 other area high schools competing in seven categories -- mathematics, economics, science, music, art, and language/literature, as well as a grueling 90-minute "super quiz" that included questions from all categories.

Stockdale's arch rival Bakersfield High School took second place.

Stockdale and BHS have been trading the top spot back and forth for several years.

Wasco High School placed third.

Nearly 200 students competed.

Stockdale sophomore Jackie Staiger, 15, said she learned a lot by participating, and also grew as a person.

"I'm an individual more used to working for myself, and this really helped me to learn how to work as a team," she said.

Although 15-year-old sophomore Hannah Chang and her BHS teammates came in second overall, Chang was the top scorer individually.

Asked how she managed to remember answers to all the obscure facts and figures she'd been interrogated on earlier, Chang giggled.

"Honestly, I don't know," she said as eight medals around her neck clinked and clanged. "It's a miracle to me.

"You have to have a thirst for learning, and you have to really value what you're studying, and the whole entire experience."

Wasco senior Michael Blanchard, 17, said he was excited about the team's third place finish.

"We worked hard," he said. "We really did earn it this year."

Among the esoteric multiple choice queries hurled at the students was:

* During the 1920s, zoning laws in New York required skyscrapers to ... ANSWER, have setbacks in the overall profile of each building;

* Before World War I, only four countries had given women the right to vote. Which of the following belong to this group? ... ANSWER, Great Britain;

* Which process is used to convert genetic information into a protein? ... ANSWER, gene expression.

If that sort of thing makes your head spin, you're not alone.

After finishing a particularly stressful super quiz round in which students have seven seconds to answer each question, one Stockdale girl cheerfully noted that she'd done pretty well, "and I didn't even throw up!"

The Stockdale team wore matching shirts emblazoned with handlebar mustaches on the front and sleeve.

Whenever team members got a question right, they held an arm across the face so that the mustaches were under their noses.

They also wore bunny ear party headbands, a private joke about a team field trip to New York City last month. The teens shot silly videos of themselves doing the bunny hop in front of iconic New York landmarks and museums.

Adam Herrera, who coached the winning team along with Gaby Scully, said that trip contributed to Saturday's victory.

"They saw some great buildings and art pieces over there," he said. "The kids getting to see all of these things first hand, not just in a packet, that makes an impact for them. It makes it real."