Craig Krista Schenck, Moffat County High School DECA adviser, didn't see it coming.
She had expected the Quiz Bowl teams to perform well at a district competition in Grand Junction on Dec. 8 and 9.
But she wasn't prepared for the results: Quiz Bowl teams A and B took first and second place, respectively.
"When they took the board, I couldn't believe it," she said.
At an event that teaches professionalism and public speaking skills, the high school students made the best showing in the team's history, bringing home 11 trophies, five medals and ranking first as a team. For more than half of the team members, the results mean a trip to state competition later in the school year.
DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, teaches students the basic techniques of business and marketing, with an emphasis on public speaking skills and professional conduct. The club is offered in conjunction with high school marketing and business classes.
In addition to requiring students to complete various business-related and service projects, the club allows students to test their marketing skills in school competitions.
John Ungefug was a member of the Quiz Bowl team that placed first at the district competition - a feat he expected out of one of the two teams.
"We were all hoping to make state - and make Schenck proud," he added.
In his event, Ungefug answered questions in a timed competition that tests students' marketing knowledge.
The topics are varied and can include anything from identifying marketing strategies to defining vocabulary words.
Because the questions aren't provided in advance, "You have to know your general marketing strategies and hope they ask something you know," Ungefug said.
At competitions, some students also complete 1-hour written tests on a marketing area of their choice and participate in impromptu role play situations to demonstrate their business skills.
The years leading up to the district competition included a growing team membership.
Two years ago, in Schenck's first year as DECA adviser, the group had four members.
Now, 20 students are enrolled in the club.
Schenck credits part of that growth to actively seeking out members.
"We're doing a lot of recruiting," she said. "We're really going after kids."
Senior Emily Willems was one student who continued to resist Schenck's efforts.
In her last year at the high school, Willems relented and joined the club.
"It really is a lot of fun," she said.
At the district competition, Willems earned perfect scores on both written tests she took. She will be among the 11 team members who will go to state.
"I didn't expect to do that well," she said.
For Willems, the benefits of joining the club exceed medals and trophies.
DECA has taught her how to conduct herself like a professional - a skill many competitors struggle with, she said.
"It will help me further in life," she said.
In the group, students "learn how to talk to people on a professional level and how not to lose their cool," DECA member Jessica Hogue said.
College recruiters have told Schenck that DECA membership looks good on a student's resume.
Schenck agreed but also added, "I think what they get out of it is much greater."