Buchholz math team wins 8th national title in a row, eclipses 200 trophies for first time

Published: Friday, July 25, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 25, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.

The Buchholz High School math team won big at a national competition for the eighth time in a row.

The 49-student team took home first place in the 44th annual Mu Alpha Theta National Convention, held this week in Orlando.

Along with their eighth consecutive national win, team coach and math teacher Will Frazer said his students snagged 214 trophies in the 40 competitions that compose the championship.

“It’s the first time we got over 200,” Frazer said.

Superintendent Owen Roberts and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Karen Clarke traveled to Orlando for the awards ceremony, Frazer said.

“That meant a lot to the kids,” he said. “They were pumped up.”

During the competition, which lasted all week, students on Buchholz’s team won first place in all three “chalk talks,” which resemble a research presentation on a math topic, first place in the relay event and first place in the hustle competition, a fast-paced math race.

Students also won 21 of the individual topic tests.

Henrik Boecken, 16, won four of the five competitions he entered, including trigonometry, complex numbers, matrices and vectors, the individual pre-calculus test and the relay event, which he entered with classmates Kevin Huang and Harish Vemuri.

“It was definitely a cool experience,” said Boecken, who is moving out of state and will have to say goodbye to the team. “There’s people from all over the country, and it was an all-around awesome experience.”

The mathletes, who are no strangers to winning competitions small and large, never fail to remark on the camaraderie they enjoy at the events.

“It was a really good social experience,” said 14-year-old Kim Nguyen, a first-timer to the national math championship. “I met so many new friends and got to reunite with old ones.”

Nguyen said her favorite event of the week was the ciphering test, and the most difficult was the triangles test.

She won both.

“It was a good challenge level for everyone,” she said of the latter.

The math team has been preparing for the national competition all year, but the last month or so was crunch time, students said.

The team practiced three to five times a week together and clocked several hours of individual study every day.

They’ll take the next two weeks off from personal study to run a middle school math camp at Buchholz, then begin preparing for next year’s national championship, to be held at the Olympic Village in Park City, Utah.

The team will have to qualify for nationals by winning a handful of smaller competitions first, for which team members start early.

“We don’t take much time off,” Frazer said. “Two weeks off, then we’re back, working.”

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