Buchholz wins seventh straight national math title


Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.

After more than 11 months of preparation, the Buchholz math team sat together at the final award ceremony in San Diego anxiously awaiting results.

When Buchholz appeared on the screen as first place was announced in the wee hours of Friday morning, the team stood and erupted in applause, the seniors sharing a group hug. Victory meant Buchholz has now won seven consecutive national championships at the Mu Alpha Theta national math competition.

With the final scores the closest they have been for Buchholz, it made victory that much sweeter, said Will Frazer, coach of the Buchholz team.

"It was very nerve-racking. We hadn't felt the heat in a long time," said Frazer. "It was nice to feel the emotional highs and lows and the butterflies."

Buchholz had been competing since Monday against 44 other schools at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego. Making it all work took strategic planning, according to Frazer, who had to ensure he placed the right students at the right events based on their strengths, along with making sure they got to their events on time.

In all, the team will return to Gainesville with 221 trophies.

"Kids are going to have trouble getting those on the plane, which is not a bad problem to have," Frazer said from San Diego on Friday morning.

This upcoming school year, Frazer said he plans on emphasizing outreach to local middle schools to get younger students excited about Mu Alpha Theta and encouraging the middle schools to improve their already existing programs. That will build the Buchholz team up in preparation for the annual loss of their seniors, he said.

"If you get them early, they'll get hooked," Frazer said.

Alex Song, 17, a senior on the Buchholz team, said he's grateful for the advantage he's been presented by being on the math team.

"The opportunity to pursue harder math and science has been invaluable," Song said. "I've made some of my best friends on the team. It's a really great group of people."

Team member Yi Zeng, 18, echoed that sentiment.

"If there's anything I'll remember, it'll be the friends I've made. There are five other seniors that I've done countless hours of math with," he said.

Song will be attending Duke University in the fall and Zeng will be starting at MIT.

After news of their triumph came Friday morning, Frazer said he took the seniors out to dinner at a local pizza joint and reminisced about the past four years.

Upon their return, the students will have a week of relaxation. Then it's back to work for next year, Frazer said. As for their coach — he said he'll get back to work immediately.

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