Students from junior and senior high schools all over the country came together for six days in St. Louis, Mo. to face off for the national titles in Mu Alpha Theta (MAO). From July 10 to 15, these dedicated students competed in topics ranging from quadratic functions and polygons to number theory and matrices. Heritage students came out on top, with every student who attended the competition scoring at least one trophy.
One hundred and four students/teams from Heritage scored in the top ten in their divisions, 44 in the top three, and 16 in first place, with five perfect scores. AHS was the number one private school at the competition for the seventh year in a row.
Students put in up to 100 hours of practice in the forms of mock team rounds, tests from previous years and practice tests from an online database. The national competition is a chance for students to reap the rewards of all this hard work.
But for many Heritage students, competing is about more than just winning.
“It’s nice being around people who like math. From what I’ve heard, it’s stereotypical to dislike math. Whenever I say anything about math to girls I know outside of school, they just give me a sort of blank stare like ‘A living person appears to like math? This does not compute,’” rising sophomore Emily Namm, who placed in all of the topics she competed in, said.
“I get to showcase my talents to a wider group of peers. Also, the social aspect of nationals makes it really fun. I could hang out with whomever I wanted to and just enjoy all the things on the Washington University Campus during free time and after tests,” rising junior Max Ranis, a longtime competitor and many-time first-place winner, said.
Some students score consistently well enough to become well-known at high schools nationwide.
“There are a select few people who have reached a point where everyone knows they’re great. Before I graduate, I want to be considered one of those greats,” Ranis said.
“One kid I’d never seen before knew my name and about a win I had in a past competition, which was both freaky and awesome,” Namm said.
Although Heritage was the top private school, it placed second overall to one public school, Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla. This scenario has occurred repeatedly in the past, but each year Heritage gets closer to beating its longtime opponent.
“We got second to Buchholz this year, but it was closer than ever, and I know a win is within our reach in future years,” Namm said.
Rising sophomore competitor Saaketh Vedantam said, “At the end of a math competition, it’s not about being happy for what you got. It’s about thinking about what you would’ve gotten if you hadn’t made silly mistakes.”