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Liberty takes first-place finish in State MathCounts

MADISON – Facing the top teams and individuals from across Alabama, Liberty Math Team claimed first place in both team and individual scores at State MathCounts competition at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

Jeffrey Duan, eighth-grader at Liberty Middle School, ranked in first place individually. Duan had the highest scores in Sprint and Target rounds and will compete at Nationals.

A national competition, MathCounts is open to students in grades 6-8 in four levels of competition: School, Chapter, State and National. Liberty had more than 80 students competing at the School level. Approximately 40 students from across Alabama competed at the State level.

Liberty Math Team includes eighth-graders Jeffrey Duan, Kriti Akarapu and Eddie Wen and seventh-grader Joseph Lee. These students won first place at the Chapter and State levels.

Coaches are Lory Schieler and Billie Wilhelm. Schieler teaches geometry with data analysis, honors and accelerated eighth-grade mathematics. Wilhelm teaches seventh-grade honors mathematics and sixth- and seventh-grade Math Team.

“The top 12 students competed in February at the Chapter competition against other schools from North Alabama. The top two teams, Liberty and Discovery middle schools, competed at the State level on March 23,” Wilhelm said.

At the state competition, the students competed in four rounds:

* Sprint — Focused on speed and accuracy. Students had 40 minutes to complete 30 math problems without calculators.

* Target – Emphasizing problem-solving and mathematical reasoning. Students received four pairs of problems and had six minutes for each pair. Calculators allowed.

* Team – Concentrating on problem-solving and collaboration for a team to complete 10 problems in 20 minutes. Eight students with the highest, combined Sprint and Target scores competed in the Countdown round.

* Countdown – Focused on speed and accuracy. Students have 45 seconds maximum per problem without calculators. Students buzzed in to answer questions before opponents. Jeffrey Duan and Eddie Wen qualified for Countdown.

The top four students from the State competition will compete at Nationals in Washington D.C. on May 11-13 with 244 students attending. Alabama’s team includes Jeffrey Duan from Liberty; Abigail Li, Pizitz Middle School; Alex Zhu, Northridge Middle School; and Henry Gladden, St. Paul’s Episcopal School.

For the third time, Wilhelm will coach the Alabama team for Nationals, because tradition calls for the winning team’s coach to lead.

“I am very proud of the hard work of these students. They dedicate many hours to learning new math skills and (can) apply that knowledge to compete against other top-notch students from across the state,” Wilhelm said. “It’s great to see students excited about math.”

Liberty Math Team usually enters seven competitions each year. Their contests typically include Muscle Shoals, one in the Birmingham area, Huntsville and MathCounts national competition.

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