On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the New Trier Math team placed second in a competition at New Trier against four other schools, namely Conant, York, Neuqua Valley, and Walter Payton.
Neuqua Valley came in first place with 312 points, while New Trier placed second with 252 points. Walter Payton was close behind with 223 points.
Overall, the team felt that this competition left them with plenty of room for improvement.
Senior Yamenah Ambreen, who has been on the team since her freshman year, said, “I don’t think we lost too badly, but I still felt that we could have done better.”
The competitions are broken up into three parts: written, orals, and the candybar competition. The written competition is divided by grade levels, and there are five contestants from each grade.
However, only the top three scores from each grade count in the team’s overall score. In addition, the teams are permitted to have an unlimited number of alternates who will also take the written test, but their scores will not play into the final score, no matter how well they perform.
The second competition is the oral competition, in which one student receives questions and then must present their solutions to a panel of judges.
The candybar competition is the final portion, and although it does not count for the team’s final score, it is often the fan favorite. In this competition, the entire team works together to solve 20 problems in 20 minutes. The winning team receives a slew of candy bars and, of course, bragging rights.
When explaining why the candybar competition is her favorite, Ambreen said, “The best way for math nerds to bond is to do math together.” She added that the candybar competition can help the team larn to work together.
“You can always tell when the new kids come in. You can see that the sophomores, juniors, and seniors work together really well, but the freshman don’t understand what’s going on. They are not aware of how the team works yet,” said Ambreen.
Junior Brandon Lee has been a member of the math team since his freshman year, and he also agrees that the candybar competition is a great way to bring the team together.
“It is a really great way to bond sometimes there is contention between two answers and what happens is you get freshman and seniors and everybody interacting with each other to figure exactly what the answer is,” said Lee.
Neuqua Valley also placed first in the candybar competition, which was a loss that hit the New Trier Math Team right where it hurts.
Both Ambreen and Lee were contestants for their grade level in the written competition. They also agreed that the team lost many of their points on small errors, such as using parentheses rather than brackets or forgetting a negative sign.
“We did well, and so did our team overall, but several of us made a couple silly mistakes. We usually do really well, so we can see this as an exception,” elaborated Lee.
The head coaches of the team are Katherine Linsenmeir and John Carter. While this is Carter’s first year as a head coach, this is Linsenmeir’s eighth year as a head coach, in addition to 17 years with the team in general.
Although Linsenmeir agreed with her students that they could have performed better, she spoke of students that stood out to her throughout the competition.
Freshman Adrian Calinescu and Alice Hu both received perfect scores on the written portion of the competition, which is extremely impressive for anyone, let alone for two students in their first year on the team.
This competition is considered one of the smaller ones throughout the year.
Over the course of five small competitions, scores are added up and placed against 55 teams in surrounding areas. This will end with one large final competition, and the team feels confident that they can improve by the time this competition rolls around.
Lee said, “We know we can do better and we are going to continue to train, and many of us are confident that by the end of the year we will be getting first.”