MUS State Mathcounts Champion

March 26, 2014

Mathematics, Owlcolades

Lower School scholars have math for lunch – along with a side of Dining Hall offerings to prepare for Mathcounts competitions. Pictured, clockwise from left, are Chang Yu, Akaash Padmanabha, Mr. Loyal Murphy (instructor in math), Jacob Webb, Jet Tan, Ethan Hurst, Jackson Howell, Jackson Moody, and Rick Reinhard.

Lower School scholars have math for lunch, along with a side of Dining Hall offerings, to prepare for Mathcounts competitions. Pictured, clockwise from left, are Chang Yu, Akaash Padmanabha, Mr. Loyal Murphy (instructor in math), Jacob Webb, Jet Tan, Ethan Hurst, Jackson Howell, Jackson Moody, and Rick Reinhard.

Hard work and long hours of practice paid off for the Owl Mathcounts team, which captured the 2014 Tennessee championship. In addition Chang Yu was the state’s top-scoring student. Eighth-grade team members Jackson Moody, Akaash Padmanabha, Rick Reinhard, and Yu traveled with Coach Loyal Murphy ’86, instructor in math, to the Tennessee Engineering Center in Nashville to compete in the tournament on March 22. The Owls were among 48 students from winning regional teams across the state.

The Mathcounts Competition is a national middle school coaching and competitive program that promotes mathematics achievement through a series of contests. The Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers sponsors the competition at the state level. Murphy was the coach for the regional team, which included the region-winning MUS mathletes plus three students from White Station Middle School and a student from Lausanne Collegiate School. This year he will be the coach for the Tennessee state team, comprising the state’s top four finishers: Yu from MUS, Andrew Wu from White Station Middle School, and Ray Lee and Mike Miccioli from Montgomery Bell Academy. The group will travel to Orlando, FL, May 8-11 on an all-expense-paid trip for the Mathcounts National Competition.

“They are treated like rock stars,” Murphy said. “They earn a trip to Disney World by doing well at mathematics.”

Getting to this level is no easy feat, however. The Owl Mathcounts team, which also included eighth graders Jackson Howell and Jacob Webb and seventh graders Ethan Hurst and Jet Tan, began practicing four or five times a week in January. Yu said the practices helped familiarize the students with the various types of questions, but there was more behind the victory.

“I truly believe that Coach Murphy’s and the teammates’ passion and willingness to help one another secured the win,” he said.

Yu said he is eager to compete in the national tournament, to see some familiar faces from last year’s competition, and to meet new people. “Besides that, I look forward to enjoying the Disney World attractions,” he said.

For the young math scholar, the benefits of “keeping up with Coach Murphy and his intense schedule” go beyond winning competitions and trips to theme parks: “Mathcounts opens one’s mind to new ideas and opportunities.”

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Following is the format of Mathcounts competitions: Sprint Round: 30 questions in 40 minutes; students work individually; no calculators permitted Target Round: Four pairs of questions; six minutes per pair of questions; students work individually; calculators are permitted Team Round: 10 questions in 20 minutes; four team members work together; calculators are permitted Countdown Round: Fast-paced round in which the students battle head-to-head in a test of speed and accuracy; top 10 students participate; no calculators permitted

The Owl first-place Tennessee Mathcounts team: from left, Chang Yu, Coach Loyal Murphy, Akaash Padmanabha, Jackson Moody, and Rick Reinhard

The Owl first-place Tennessee Mathcounts team: from left, Chang Yu, Coach Loyal Murphy, Akaash Padmanabha, Jackson Moody, and Rick Reinhard

The Tennessee Mathcounts team advancing to national competition: from left, Chang Yu and Coach Loyal Murphy (Memphis University School), Mike Miccioli and Ray Lee (Montgomery Bell Academy); and Andrew Wu (White Station Middle School)

The Tennessee Mathcounts team advancing to national competition: from left, Chang Yu and Coach Loyal Murphy (Memphis University School), Mike Miccioli and Ray Lee (Montgomery Bell Academy); and Andrew Wu (White Station Middle School)

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