Heading into his second year as Chico High School’s lone competitor at the state UIL academic meet this weekend, Austin Richey was introspective when discussing his results and prospects.
The senior is advancing after winning computer science at the Region 2-2A meet earlier this month. The event centers around a competitor’s coding, mathematics and Java skills. Richey advanced to state last year in computer applications, which focuses on working in Microsoft Word and document creation skills.
“The difference was a lot more practice in computer science and a bad day at regionals in computer applications,” he said.
Different also was the team behind Richey at the meet. In just its second year since a five-year hiatus, the school’s UIL academics program is growing steadily. Principal Randy Brawner said Chico brought 18 to the district meet, compared to nine or 10 the year before. A squad of Chico competitors also took second in the computer applications team event at the regional meet, one spot shy of advancing to state. Brawner said Richey’s influence on the team was likely a key part of their strong result.
“He would be kind of the de facto coach of the team,” Brawner said. “He just knows the material. I think that’s why we were able to finish second.”
Brawner said Richey’s stellar performance is even more impressive considering the school’s short history with the program and lack of dedicated resources.
“We don’t have a traditional computer science program like some of the other schools do,” he said. Perrin, who finished No. 1, has a computer science program where they have a class. Austin’s kind of freelancing. His skills are just at such a level that he can compete regardless.”
Aside from this year’s results, Brawner said Richey will likely have a lasting impact on the school’s UIL academics program. Several members of the computer science team will return next year.
“He’s kind of been our sentinel guy,” Brawner said. “He’s the guy we’ll look to three to five years from now when we have the program built as the guy that was the trendsetter for us. Even though we’re losing Austin after this year, we can keep more kids and qualify more for regionals and state.”
Richey will compete Friday at the University of Texas at Austin.