When MATHCOUNTS Tevis WinsTevis Junior High from Bakersfield, Murray Middle School from Ridgecrest, and Fruitvale Junior High from Bakersfield finished first, second and third among 23 schools and approximately 145 students who took part in the 19th annual MATHCOUNTS competition on Feb. 23 at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). As the top three finishers, they earned the right to compete in the Southern California MATHCOUNTS event March 16 at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine).
Tevis teacher/coach Dinah Redford said of her winning team of David Kimber, Nimi Katragadda, Curtis Wang and Chris Cady, “They have a love for math. They are very gifted and didn’t mind putting in that additional effort of studying at home that was needed to win.”
Members of the other winning teams were: Jack Merwin, Matt Kapeles, Jared Wonnacott and Nik Fraser from Murray and Brittany Miller, Justin Koh, Kyle Bardet and Mason Dhanens from Fruitvale.
A Kern Allstar Team, consisting of the top eight scoring individuals, not competing for either of the top three teams, is also eligible to compete at U.C. Irvine. They were: Suzanna Piatt -Monroe Middle School; Matt Wilson - Chipman Junior High, Sarah Berg - Desert; Kristy Wen - Tevis; Carolyn Valdez - Almondale-Little Rock; Drew Miller - Tevis; Eric Ford - Murray; and Katie Shanks - Desert Junior High.
Piatt also won the afternoon Countdown Round, the only event open to the public. It featured the top 10 students competing two-at-a-time in a single elimination test to see who could be the quickest in 45 seconds, without using a calculator, to correctly answer mathematical problems projected on an overhead screen. Piatt had the second best record in morning testing. In the Countdown Round, she had to face Chipman’s Wilson, who had the fourth best record. Wilson had stormed through his first two competitors, but Piatt put an end to that run by correctly answering three out of four questions. Then, Piatt won the title by beating Tevis’ Kimber, who had scored number one in the morning testing.
As a sixth-grader, Piatt had also made the elite Countdown Round last year.
“I didn’t do very well, then,” Piatt said. “This year I was more experienced and a little calmer. But there is still a lot of pressure with the clock and all your friends from school watching. It’s wonderful to win.”
For some, the chance to compete meant putting in a long day. Murray’s Wonnacott, who had the eighth best testing score on the day, traveled all the way from Ridgecrest.
“I got up at 5:30 this morning to make the trip and testing began at 9 a.m.” Wonnacott said. “ We went through weekly practices and took tests to see who were the best to represent our school. Luckily, I made the team, and now it’s great to know we are going on to the state competition.”
Others, such as Wilson, viewed the competition, that tests both individual and team abilities in mathematical problem solving, as a learning experience.
“The abstract problems give us solutions we can use in everyday situations,” Wilson said. “The other, harder questions will prepare us for classes we will take later in life that will pose issues that might be hard to understand.”
MATHCOUNTS is sponsored locally by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, American Petroleum Institute-San Joaquin Valley Chapter, Bakersfield Math Council, California Society of Professional Engineers-Chapter 14 and Insight Environmental Consultants.