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White River Valley Math Team Competes For State Title

Last updated on Thursday, April 26, 2012

(GREENE COUNTY) - Teamwork and studying were key parts of the equation that’s brought the White River Valley Academic Super Bowl Math Team to the brink of a state championship.

Mark Stalcup, of the Greene County Daily World reports, on May 5, the team will travel to Purdue University, where they'll learn how their skills add up against other top-ranked state teams.

"That's for the title," said White River Valley High School mathematics teacher Jason Walton, the team's sponsor. "That's the last stop. We win there, and it's over. We lose there, and it's over, too."

Team members include Jesse McDonald, Trent Myers, Andre Thachuk, Alysa Woodall, Trent Carpenter, and Vaughn Johnson.

The team's season began with the Brown County Invitational in March, where their performance left a bit to be desired but inspired them to work harder.

"We learned," Walton said. "We didn't exactly set the world on fire there, but I think it gave people a base to go from, and they realized what kind of questions they were going to see."

Math course work, including Algebra II classes taught by Chris Gehring assisted with the effort.

Many of the tougher questions the team faced focused on binary numbers, base 10, base 6, the law of sine and cosine and other advanced mathematics concepts.

From Brown County, the team traveled to North Knox High School April 17, finishing in first place for the district and second in the state.

"That was the real district competition," Walton said. "It's the one that counts."

Answering 18 questions, including a tiebreaker, qualified the WRV squad for the state competition. It also meant the team finished second in the state among Class IV schools.
"I was pretty proud of them," Walton said. "I didn't know how well we'd do."

Finishing first in the district and second in the state so far thrilled the team.
"It was unexpectedly satisfying," Johnson said.

The team drew an enthusiastic response from students, Walton said, providing him with a difficult choice when selecting the final team line-up to compete.

"I had to pick six students, and that's tough to do," said Walton. "We generated enough interest with this that we had 10 or more students participating throughout it. Everybody's part of an academic team somewhere."

Johnson and Woodall hit the books after school every evening, winning spaces on the squad after their diligence impressed Walton.

"I really went on who seemed to have studied the most," Walton said, adding most team members participated in multiple extracurricular activities, making practice time precious for the squad.

"They're in track, tennis, softball and baseball, so I didn't get to see them as often as I liked," Walton said.

Thachuk racked up considerable points for the team, but the squad's closer may well be Myers, who solved an equation Thachuk missed to win the day.

"It felt really nice," Myers said. "The question was about a special right triangle, where we had to find the degree of the missing angle."

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