Math Team Sweeps Competition at State


Photo by Iris Tsouris

The Chamblee Math Team’s trophy, awarded for their 5A division win in the state tournament.

Camille Crumbley, Staff writer

You may call them nerds. You may call them geeks. But now, you will be calling them champions; in the annual Georgia State Math Tournament, Chamblee’s Math Team placed first, making them 5A divisional champions.

On April 27, six members of the Chamblee Math Team, sponsored by math teacher Larisa Tulchinsky, traveled to Macon, where the state math tournament was being held at Middle Georgia State University. The team consisted of Chamblee Math Team Captain and sophomore Catherine Cossaboom, juniors Nevin Aresh and Connor Lin and senior Ramanan Abeyakaran. Freshman Walker Kleinfelter and junior Ethan Shi competed as individuals.

The team had worked hard to prepare for the competition.

“In practice, I usually give the teams several practice problems,” said Cossaboom. “We work them together. Sometimes, we go over specific concepts, [but] for competitions specifically, we like to just go over practice problems.”

For Lin, preparing for a math competition is all about the mindset.

“From my experience, preparing for math competitions is just sleeping well and hoping that you’ll be in a good mindset the day of,” said Lin. “You might check your calculator’s batteries, sharpen your pencils, grab a new pen, or grab some lucky charm that you have, but there’s not much you can study without psyching yourself out.”

A math tournament comprises several different elements.

“At a math tournament, there are many rounds, including the individual, ciphering and team rounds,” said Aresh. “The individual round at the state tournament consisted of 50 multiple choice questions in one and a half hours. Then the ciphering round is more of a speed round where you receive questions one at a time and have two minutes to complete the problem. However, if you solve the problem in a minute, then you get twice as many points as if you solved it in the full two minutes. Finally, for the team round, you work with your team to answer five questions.”

Awards are given solely based on individual and team scores.

For much of the team, this is not their first rodeo.

“I’ve always just been interested in math,” said Cossaboom. “I’ve gravitated toward it because there is almost a sense of beauty in pure reasoning because ideas just progress logically. I got into math team in elementary school. In middle school, Mr. Hite was great and helped me see how impactful math team really was. And now I captain the math team at the high school. It’s a lot of fun.”

Chamblee Middle School math teacher Kent Hite was also instrumental in Aresh’s math team career.

“I had always been fairly good at math, but the first time I saw math team problems, I thought I was in over my head,” said Aresh. “These problems were unlike anything I’d ever seen. Like, what even was probability? But Mr. Hite worked with me and the rest of the math team to hone our skills and teach us the topics that they ask at math tournaments. He made math fun, and I take what I’ve learned from him to every math tournament I go to.”

All the team members were excited about their state win, but some found it to be expected.

“Our region is very small, and while we may have scored well, it’s generally easy to place first in our region,” said Lin. “The win was expected, but it was satisfying regardless.”

The math team also had four Chamblee students make the state math team.

“At the state math tournament they select about 50 people for the state math team and they choose an A team, a B team, and a C team,” said Cossaboom. “This year, we had four people get in, which is one of the highest numbers we’ve ever had. It was Walker Kleinfelter, Nevin Aresh, Ramanan Abeyakaran, and myself.”

Kleinfelter, Cossaboom, Aresh, and Abeyakaran are all excited for the opportunity to represent Chamblee and Georgia on the state math team. They will be participating in competitions that both challenge them and provide the opportunity to grow and learn as students.

“We go to competitions called ARML [American Regions Math League],” said Cossaboom. “It takes place at four different centers throughout the country. We go and compete nationwide and we represent Georgia. […] We do proofs, writing competitions, and relays where we actually pass problems down the line, which is a lot of fun.”