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Kansas Wesleyan University

For the fourth consecutive year, Kansas Wesleyan’s DECA program asserted itself as the top team in the state. The KWU squad won 39 of a possible 41 medals and took first place in 15 of 18 events at the DECA state meet Jan. 29 in Hillsboro.

Eli Truhe, Taylor Lang and Ryann Kats led the way with three first-place medals, with Kats earning a pair of individual first-place finishes in Marketing Management and Sales Management Meeting. Kats also paired with Emily Monson to win the Business-to-Business Marketing event, while Truhe teamed with Austin Wiley for a pair of first-place finishes (Marketing/Communications and Sports and Entertainment Marketing). Truhe won the individual Travel and Tourism event as well, while Lang won both Human Resource Management and Retail Management in individual competition and paired with Dillon Harriger to win International Marketing.

“We lost a lot of our team to graduation,” said Dr. Trish Petak, DECA Coach and chair of the Department of Business and Accounting. “Our newcomers were key to our success and faced a steep challenge to acclimatize to the program, due to our practices being virtual. They worked incredibly hard and we could not have had this level of success without that work. The individuals who returned from previous teams performed phenomenally all year in practice, and continued to do so at the meet. I’m proud of their dedication and desire to improve, even after all the success they’ve had during the previous three years.”

DECA is an organized business competition that either presents students with case studies in their chosen event or allows students to prepare a business-related presentation. Every case study challenges the individual or team with a recent, real-world problem, and the competitors then have a limited time to develop a presentation in response. 

“DECA is a wonderful learning tool for the real world,” Dr. Petak said. “It provides experience presenting business-related ideas in an organized, professional manner and helps students practice soft skills that are important in every job field.”

The results from the state meet qualified the entire KWU team for the national DECA competition, slated for April 17–20 in Austin, Texas. 

Below is a capsule of KWU results from the 2021 DECA state meet. 

Individual Events:

Entrepreneurship Operations: Cameron Becker, 1st

Fashion Merchandising and Marketing: Austin Wiley, 2nd

Financial Accounting: Matthew Whitsitt, 1st

Hotel and Lodging: Haylie Rodriguez, 1st; Maddy Beckett, 3rd

Human Resource Management: Taylor Lang, 1st; Lauren Flowers, 3rd

Managerial Accounting: Matthew Whitsitt, 1st

Marketing Management: Ryann Kats, 1st; Matthew Freriks, 3rd

Restaurant and Food Service Management: Karley Benson, 1st; Nathan Mercer, 2nd

Retail Management: Taylor Lang, 1st

Sales Management Meeting: Ryann Kats, 1st

Travel and Tourism: Eli Truhe, 1st; Emily Monson, 2nd

Team Events:

Business Ethics: Nathan Mercer and Matthew Whitsitt, 2nd; Maddy Beckett and Linda Himes, 3rd

Business-to-Business Marketing: Ryann Kats and Emily Monson, 1st 

Event Planning: Karley Benson and Lauren Flowers, 1st; Maddy Beckett and Linda Himes, 2nd

International Marketing: Dillon Harriger and Taylor Lang, 1st

Marketing Communications: Eli Truhe and Austin Wiley, 1st; Karley Benson and Emily Monson, 2nd

Sports and Entertainment Marketing: Eli Truhe and Austin Wiley 1st; Cameron Becker and Matthew Freriks, 2nd; Lauren Flowers and Dillon Harriger, 3rd

Prepared Presentation:

Entrepreneurship – Starting a Business: Dillon Harriger, 2nd