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Mathletes team paves their way for success

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Kennedy Curtis, News Writer

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After six years, the mathletes team once again became titled SWSC conference champions with their groundbreaking success on Jan. 23 at Andrew High School.

At the championship the mathletes won 10 out of the 15 events and each member earned at least one first place award. This qualified them for the regional competition at Lincoln-Way East High School on Feb. 23. Despite their victories over their last few competitions, their road towards regionals has not been as easy one. Competing at regionals is a difficult task all on its own.

According to mathletes coach Michael Sacks, regionals is “100 percent different” from conference. For conference the mathletes are informed prior the competition of what they will be tested on. This helps them to better prepare themselves.

“The topics are already known and the limitations of what they can ask questions on are already known,” Sacks said.

On the other hand, for regionals the mathletes don’t have the same advantage.

“The conference meets tell you what the subjects are going to be, but for the regional competitions they’ll only categorize it as Algebra 1,” Sacks said. “It’s over more topics and the questions are written in a way that are a lot more difficult.”

Their road to regionals became even more difficult when the mathletes couldn’t practice together as a team.

According to Sacks the team meets every Monday and Tuesday from 3:15 to 4:00 p.m. once the conference season starts in September. The majority of the mathletes attend in the beginning of the season, however as more activities start further in the year attendance to the practices can be low.

Because many mathletes are involved in other activities Sacks said mathletes can sometimes “get the short end of the stick”.

“Coaches always say “practice the way you want to compete’ it’s really the same with Mathletes also.” Sacks said. “We get a lot of strong students who have such big work loads and big activities that mathletes tends to be put on the back burner until the last minute.”
Senior Jose Julian Garcia is an example of a few students who aren’t able to attend most practices. As the mathletes progressed throughout the conference competition Garcia was busy with speech and acting in the New Faces production “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Even though he and a few others aren’t always able to make it to practices he said Sacks and H-F Mathletes Assistant coach Melissa Makovsky have been “very understanding” with the mathletes’ commitments to other activities.

Nevertheless, Makovsky remained confident the team would do well at regionals based upon the good qualities they posses both as a team and individuals.

“We have a really good team and they communicate well with one another. If they need help they’re never afraid to ask for help, so it’s a sign of strength,” Makovsky said. “They’ve been impressive through and through each meet.”
Sacks agreed with Makovsky saying that “each of them brings a skill set that’s really valuable.”

“We have students that are exceptionally bright at math. Every player on the team really has a strength that they bring whether it’s their natural math ability or whether it’s their hunger to learn more,” Sacks said.

At the regionals competition Senior Ken Nakamura, freshman Keisha Toguem, and freshman Jessica Lyseng qualified for state.

They will compete on May 4 at University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

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