The MathCounts team from Kyrene Altadena Middle School placed fifth overall in a recent regional tournament. They will compete in the state tournament on March 31.

Travis Roemhild/AFN

The MathCounts team from Kyrene Altadeña Middle School in Ahwatukee will test its talents in arithmetic at the state tournament after a fifth-place victory during a recent regional competition.

The team of five — one sixth-grader, three seventh-graders, and one eighth-grader — competed in four different rounds at the Feb. 25 tournament. There were regional competitions around Arizona and the top 100 students were invited to the state tournament, to take place on March 31 in Vail, Co.

The first round of the regional competition consisted of each student answering 30 questions in 40 minutes. Then they had a round of eight additional problems before a team round, which had them doing 10 problems in 20 minutes.

After it was all said and done, an individual countdown round concluded the tournament. This gave each of the top 10 individual point leaders the opportunity to move up or down depending on how they did in a one-versus-one match against the person ranked above them.

Questions ranged from word problems to straight forward questions about subjects in algebra and geometry.

“The countdown round is the most scary because it’s quiet and you have the whole audience watching you,” Christina Baek, 14, said.

Baek finished third place overall, Brandon Jiang finished eighth place overall, and Sangbo Yoon finished 11th place overall. Bobae Johnson and Jiyoo Kim rounded out the team, which is coached by Altadeña math teacher Ellen Nielsen.

“The best feeling from the tournament is when you can do question 30 (the hardest question),” Jiang, 12, said.

Now the team will increase and make its practice time more efficient with only two weeks left before the state tournament.

“They are all very busy,” Nielsen said. “We will work on improving mental math and memorizing formulas when we get back from spring break.”

The top four individual performers at the state tournament will go on to the national MathCounts competition. The regional competition saw 162 students on 23 teams come together last month.

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