“Retired coach leads team to victory” – a seemingly unlikely headline, but an accurate description of a recent BYU event.
Retired professor David Wright led a group of thirteen high school students to a fifth place finish in the online “Math Madness” AMC Interstellar High School Mathematics National Championship. These students, sponsored by the BYU Department of Mathematics, may just be the newest generation of BYU Mathletes. A total of 346 high school teams competed in the Mathematical Association of America-sponsored event. After three preseason contests, BYU’s team was put in a bracket with 64 teams with average team size between 11 and 15. The BYU team won its bracket and earned a fifth place ranking.
The team score is the sum of the top five students. In the championship match, BYU defeated eighth ranked Davidson Academy of Nevada by a score of 39 to 34. BYU’s top five scorers are: Nicholas McConnell (10/10), Thomas Draper (8/10), Annie Yun (7/10), Josh Speckman (7/10), and Quinlan Leishman (7/10). All of these contestants are currently in grades ten and eleven and are likely to compete again for BYU next year. Dr. Wright invited students who had previously attended BYU Math Camps, BYU Math recognition programs, or whom he had connections to through BYU Math majors and alumni to join the Math Madness team. Students from out-of-state are able to participate on the BYU team because the competition is entirely online.
Dr. Wright retired in August 2015, but has remained involved in the BYU math community, especially with student outreach programs. He coordinates competitions, math summer camps, and other activities for junior high and high school students, hoping that some of the students will attend BYU and compete on the Putnam mathematical team.
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Here is a list of the members of the BYU team who have contributed to a winning score in at least one match:
Annie Yun, Junior at West High, Utah
Rohan Jairam, Junior at West High, Utah
Daniel Swingle, Senior at Seven Lakes High School, Texas
Ben Baker, Senior at West High, Utah
Josh Speckman, Sophomore at West High, Utah
Thomas Draper, Sophomore at Montgomery High School, New Jersey
Nicholas McConnell, Junior at Princeton High School, New Jersey
Quinlan Leishman, Junior at Bountiful High School, Utah
Lucy Ward, Ninth Grader at Mill Creek Jr. High, Utah
Emil Geisler, Ninth Grader at Mill Creek Jr. High , Utah
Eli Child, Ninth Grader at Mill Creek Jr. High, Utah
Alex Cheng, Ninth Grader at Midvale Middle School, Utah
Collin Allred, Eighth Grader at Mountain Ridge Junior High, Utah
Team members who are nationally ranked in the top 1,000 out of 17,539 participants.
Nicholas McConnell: 5
Josh Speckman: 93
Thomas Draper: 104
Annie Yun: 194
Rohan Jairam: 511
Lucy Ward: 551
Alex Cheng: 625
Ben Baker: 975
— Annie Tyler, BYU Department of Mathematics