Now is a pretty good time to be on the Cyclones bandwagon.

After a thrilling victory over the weekend, the Pueblo West High School boys basketball team will be playing in the state semifinals Friday night in Denver. With a win there and another in the finals, the team will be getting some well deserved recognition and praise.

But the school already has a state championship in another type of competition this year that should not be overlooked. Last month, for the second year in a row, Pueblo West took top honors in the Colorado State DECA Conference.

DECA used to stand for Distributive Education Clubs of America, although now the organization is simply known by its acronym. The association prepares young people for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

At the conference, students participated in competitions that included testing, role-playing exercises, written research and project presentations.

It’s worth noting that Colorado ranks fifth nationally in terms of total number of association members. And more than 3,000 Colorado students were competing in various categories this year.

To face such competition, Pueblo West assembled the academic equivalent of a dream team.

Megan Kaspari was the first place winner and overall champion for her work in the hotel and lodging category. Gavin Graham, last year’s state champion, came close again this year by taking second place in the automotive category.

Other top finishers from Pueblo West included Taylor Ragulsky, who finished second in the hotel and lodging category; Ashlyn Drury, who finished second in retail merchandising; and Claire Davis, who placed fourth in business services.

That starting five all qualified for the International Career and Development Conference that will be held in Nashville, Tenn., next month.

Look, we get it. More people probably are going to come out to watch the basketball team in action this weekend than there were at the DECA competition. But let’s not forget that schools are supposed to be, first and foremost, where students develop their minds and learn the skills they’ll need to be successful in adult life.

No disrespect to the school’s basketball players, but it’s unlikely that many (or perhaps even any) of them will make their living playing the sport.

It’s a safer bet that some of the students involved in the DECA competition actually could end up working in their fields of study after graduation.

So shouldn’t we value state championships in academic pursuits at least as much, if not more, than we do athletic competitions?

Don’t get it twisted: The purpose of this editorial isn’t to downplay the accomplishments of the basketball team. Regardless of what happens this weekend, the players and coaches have had a fantastic season. They deserve praise for that.

We just think it’s important to give the students who participated in the DECA competition their due as well. Basketball may be an easier spectator sport to watch, but what’s happening between the ears of the students at DECA is no less interesting or important.

The bottom line is that Pueblo West High School students are demonstrating that they can achieve great things both academically and athletically. And it’s OK to get a little caught up in the storm around these Cyclones.

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