This article was written by Olivia Lloyd, class of 2019.
After four days of intense testing and dozens of hours spend practicing beforehand, Heritage’s math competition team finished in second place at the 2019 Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta state convention.
In 2017, Heritage made school history by winning first the state and then national championships. In 2018, after winning the state competition by a narrow margin, Heritage’s Mu Alpha Theta (MAO) lost the national competition to rival Buchholz and spent this competition season trying to close the gap once more. Despite their efforts, they fell short of first place by 277.566 T-points.
For senior Vladyslav Oleksenko, co-president of the club and MAO competitor of four years, the state convention will fuel the competitors’ fire to win nationals. “We did feel quite disappointed and bitter and sad when we lost,” Oleksenko said. “But we can win, there’s no doubt about that. We did it throughout the season. It’s just that things did not go so well. We have to be prepared at nationals and be prepared for when things might go wrong.”
The nationwide organization of Mu Alpha Theta is hosting the national competition in Las Vegas July 14-19.
An unexpected loss in the Mu division coupled with a heavy loss in the Theta division led to the team’s demise. Freshman Elizabeth Zhu described what went wrong for her division, Theta.
“When we went to states we didn’t have the mindset of ‘we want to win.’ It was more the mindset of ‘we want to quality for nationals [individually],’” Zhu said. “After taking ciphering we just had a terrible mindset, and we had that mindset going into the individual test that we were going to fail it like we did the ciphering.”
Most of the state attendees in Theta and Alpha had to keep up with their school work from their Competitive Algebra II or Competitive Precalculus classes in addition to completing their extracurricular math competition practice. Juniors and seniors taking AP Calculus and AP Statistics has to endure similar work loads. This proved too much for many of the young competitors.
Even though they did not win, the freshman still were able to enjoy the communal aspects of the club. “Another favorite moment was taking photos of everyone with their trophies and seeing how happy they are and being able to capture moments like that,” Zhu said, who is currently on yearbook staff and hopes to become historian of MAO next year. “It showed how happy everyone is when a school comes together to try to beat another school, Buchholz. You can see throughout the season what has happened and reminisce on those memories.”
Despite the rocky start to the competition, Oleksenko believed it was not all bad. “We had quite a few good performances the [second] day [of the competition]” he said. “I think we had the best relay performance from our school ever. We got a 98, and Buchholz got a 68.”
Other positive improvements occurred, possibly as a result of a new regimented system of MAO homework leading up to the competition. Thirty competitors received top three awards, Freshman Philip Nenov won first place in the Theta topic of Functions with a perfect score, as did sophomore Saathvik Selvan in Alpha Complex Numbers. Junior Connor Gordon, who earlier this year won a spot to compete in Who Wants to Be a Mathematician (WWTBAM) and qualified for the United States American Math Olympiad (USAMO), received a second place in Probability and third place in Gemini. Perhaps most notably, co-president senior Saaketh Vedantam “swept,” meaning he won first place in every one of his individual categories.
Although the Buchholz math competition teacher, Mr. Will Fraser, is organizing the national competition, Oleksenko plans to turn their advantage against them. “They might feel that this will be any easy win. But we’re not letting them have an easy win. We’re going to get back stronger than ever.”
|13||First Place Individual Performances|
|10||Second Place Individual Performances|
|7||Third Place Individual Performances|
|74||Individual Top Ten Performances|
|Calculus Individual||1st place||Saaketh Vedantam|
|Calculus Ciphering||1st place||Saaketh Vedantam|
|Mental Math||1st place||Saaketh Vedantam|
|Speed Math||1st place||Saaketh Vedantam|
|Area & Volume||1st place||Saaketh Vedantam|
|Sequences & Series||1st place||Saaketh Vedantam|
|Statistics||1st place||Arnav Kumar|
|Theta Functions||1st place||Philip Nenov|
|Complex Numbers||1st place||Saathvik Selvan|
|Trigonometry||1st place||Saathvik Selvan|
|BC Calculus||1st place||Vlad Oleksenko|
|Matrices & Vectors||1st place||Jae Young Beck|
|Alpha Individual||1st place||Jae Young Beck|
|Analytic Geometry||2nd place||Alexander Divoux|
|Matrices & Vectors||2nd place||Alexander Divoux|
|BC Calculus||2nd place||Andrew Ma|
|Probability||2nd place||Connor Gordon|
|Theta Equations & |
|2nd place||Corbin Diaz|
|Alpha Equations & |
|2nd place||Iris Lang|
|Circumference, Perimeter, |
Area and Volume
|2nd place||Nicolas Fernandez-Baigun|
|Theta Functions||2nd place||Rohan Kumar|
|Calculus Applications||2nd place||Shayaan Subzwari|
|Trigonometry||2nd place||Vasisht Ganesh|
|Gemini||3rd place||Connor Gordon|
|Gemini||3rd place||Emily Namm & Connor Gordon|
|Limits & Derivatives||3rd place||Gabriel Diraviam|
|Analytic Geometry||3rd place||Jae Young Beck|
|Alpha Individual||3rd place||Jose Ramirez|
|Theta Logs & Exponents||3rd place||Philip Nenov|
|Integration||3rd place||Vlad Oleksenko|
|Calculus Bowl (4-person team)||2nd place|
|Alpha Bowl (PreCalculus) (4-person team)||2nd place|
|Theta Bowl (Algebra 2/Geometry) (4-person team)||3rd place|
|Relay (3-person team)||1st place|
|Hustle (4-person team)||1st place|
|Statistics Bowl (4-person team)||1st place|