The math team at a recent competition.

Math Team Advances to State After Success in Regionals

Mar 7, 2023

Niles West has dozens of extracurriculars, but the math team’s sheer dedication to a subject that isn’t always easy shines above most. The Niles West Math Team has gone above and beyond recently, competing as the home team in the regional tournament on Feb. 25 and having three team members qualify for state, sophomores John Mongomery and Anthony Mui and freshman Jacob Kawako.

This success doesn’t come without effort, students spent months preparing for competitions.

“We practice all year for a thing like this, so it’s nice for it to pay off and for us to make it to state,” Mui said.

During these tournaments, each grade level has a specific math topic they are tested on, and five students from each grade compete. They’re scored by combining the points of the top three students from each grade level and the oralist, a senior chosen to compete in a presentation-style competition rather than a written test.

“I felt really honored to be chosen as the oralist because only one person gets to do it each year. Winning the silver medal in the oralist event was super exciting because I’ve been practicing the topic for a few months and I feel like my work paid off. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to present in front of the judges, especially because sometimes I don’t have full confidence in my solutions, but I’ve learned that an important part of being an oralist is pretending like I do. Fake it ‘til you make it,” senior Prisha Singh said.

Being quick-minded seems like an essential skill for these students, and even without all the prep work, success can still come.

“It’s a little awkward because I joined the team a week before regionals and all the other students had been there for an entire semester. I equate the fact that I did well on the regionals to the fact that I had nothing to lose because I hadn’t been there long and wasn’t nervous,” Kawako said.

The math team hasn’t participated in an in-person competition since 2019, making this year’s extra special. Niles West hosted 19 schools within four divisions that make up the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM).

“Speaking from a coach’s perspective, the in-person competitions are much better, and much preferred to the online practices and competitions.  The online practices and competitions were via Zoom, very impersonal, and sparsely attended. Unfortunately, when we were remote, we lost many members of the math team.  The coaches have worked diligently to build the team back up, and we are having a very successful year,” coach Suzanne Jarosik said.

Though the team is very strong, Jarosik and other coaches are always looking for new members.

It’s an exciting year, and it’s great to be back in person.  I encourage anyone with a genuine love of math to come to a practice and check it out.  Everyone is welcome,” Jarosik said.

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