Annual decathlon pits seniors vs. staff

For around two decades, Merrillville High School has held an annual decathlon event, where seniors and teachers compete in 10 unique activities that test their skills and athleticism. The event is organized and broadcast by the PNN staff.

This year’s competitors were eager to show off their abilities in the activities that make up this years event: 2 vs. 2 basketball, pull ups, bags, wings eating, ping pong, game of horse, air hockey, and Connect 4.

The pull-up competition featured English teacher Jason Sonnenberg and Strength Coach Brady Willard against Nasir Christion and David Maldonado Jr. 

Despite finishing with 15 pull-ups, Mr. Sonnenberg was a little out of his element in the pull-up competition. 

“I definitely thought we’d win,” Mr. Sonnenberg said. “The competition was close, but the students were in fantastic shape; Coach Willard was too.”

Mr. Sonnenberg is known for his game skills, but he decided to switch it up this year and use his brawn instead of his brain. 

 “I literally exercised every day in 2022. This year, I exercised every other day,” Mr. Sonnenberg said. “Throughout these workouts, I do pull-ups or chin-ups about four days a week. It turns out that maybe I don’t lower myself all the way, so I thought I could do more than I actually could do.

 “Coach Willard went all the way down to where his arms were completely straight. I thought I should do that too, and it lowered the number I was able to complete.” 

Nasir Christion, a wrestler,  just did his normal workout routine to prepare for this competition, but he exceeded his expectations, leading the event.

“I thought I was going to hit at least like 15 and I hit 24,” he said. 

Christion competed to help prove he’s stronger than people think.

“And I wanted to make sure everyone knows what Coach Willard is teaching us does help with our strength and conditioning,” Christion said.  

He competed with fellow senior David Maldonado, who finished with 17. 

“Honestly, my advantage would probably be my strength and size,” Christion said. ”cause I’m small and I’m short so I didn’t have as much weight to carry as everybody else, me and David both.” 

Both seniors were confident they would win from the start.

“We both knew we were going to win. We knew there was no way Willard and Sonnenberg were going to beat us.“ Maldonado said. “When you’re on top it kind of just comes easy. Nasir and I don’t have to do extra sets to get ready for those two.”

Although he didn’t perform as well as he hoped, Mr. Sonnenberg promises to be back next year. 

“This event, like all events, are special because it puts teacher vs seniors. It should be fun, which it was.” Mr. Sonnenberg said. “I had zero prior connection to each of these students, but they were cool kids, with extremely bright futures ahead of them.”