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Local 'mathletes' rise to the top

Submitted photo Lake Middle School students Felix Oh, Drew Bennett, Ankith Bhat, Amith Bhat and Bradley Cho all competed at the Minnesota MathCounts competition on March 16. Amith Bhat will advance to the National MathCounts competition May 10 in Washington, D.C.

For a group of Lake Middle School students, math counts for a lot in their lives.

LMS eighth graders Ankith Bhat, Drew Bennett, Bradley Cho and Amith Bhat took seventh place in the team Minnesota >a href=>MathCounts competition March 16 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Plymouth.

Amith Bhat, who placed third in the individual MathCounts competition, will advance to the National MathCounts competition May 10 in Washington, D.C.He will compete with a team of students from Edina, Plymouth and Rochester.

The LMS team qualified for the state competition by placing first in the chapter, or regional, competition.

A total of 132 students, making up 27 teams, competed in the Minnesota MathCounts competition.

LMS eighth grader Felix Oh also competed individually at the Minnesota MathCounts competition. He placed 45th in the individual competition. Oh placed fourth at the chapter competition, which qualified him for state.

"I like being with other people who like math like me," he said.

>A passion for math

LMS team members said they enjoy competing in MathCounts because they are able to meet other students who enjoy and are good at math.

"I like the opportunity to meet other people," Cho said.

Bennett said his favorite aspect of MathCounts is learning new formulas and new math concepts.

"I like learning new concepts that we haven't gotten to yet in math," he said.

Cho said he enjoys math because it can be applied outside of school.

"The thing I like about math is that it helps you later in life and helps you solve problems in life," he said. "You can solve real world problems."

The LMS MathCounts team members all said they have aspirations to have careers that relate to math in some way.

"I want to do something related to math because I'm good at it," Ankith Bhat said.


The MathCounts Competition Program is a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program that promotes mathematics achievement through a series of "bee" style contests.

Each competition consists of three parts: the Sprint, Target and Team.

The Sprint Round has 30 questions and students have 40 minutes to complete them.

This round tests accuracy, with time being such that only the most capable students will complete all of the problems. Calculators are not permitted.

"Most people don't finish," Ankith Bhat said, "only qualified people can finish."

The Target Round consists of eight questions, which are distributed to the students two at a time. Students have six minutes to complete each pair of problems.

"That was the hardest," Ankith Bhat said. "Target is probably the hardest."

The Target Round features multi-step problems that engage "mathletes" in mathematical reasoning and problem-solving processes. Problems there assume the use of calculators.

The Team Round has 10 problems for the team to work together on during a 20 minute time limit.

"We bombed the team round," Ankith Bhat said. "We came in seventh at state which is good, but we could have done better."

In the national competition, a fourth category is added: the Countdown Round.

The top 25 percent of individuals, up to a maximum of 10, proceed to the Countdown Round, an oral round in which students compete head-to-head.

Amith Bhat said he was surprised when his name was announced for the national team.

"I was surprised actually because I didn't think I did that well," he said.

His teammates do not agree.

"We weren't surprised at all," Cho said.

Amith Bhat said he is looking forward to competing at the National MathCounts competition.

"I'm just excited about the challenge I guess," he said.

Amith Bhat said his preparation for the national competition will consist of going through worksheet and math materials with his teammates.

"It'll be fun," he said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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