AHS 'mathletes' on top

Competing against more than 200 other students, Ashland High School "mathletes" won both the team and individual portions of this year's Southern Oregon Math League on Tuesday.

"It's phenomenal!" said the students' coach, Lori Thickett, an Ashland High School math teacher. "This has been an incredible bunch of mathletes."

The 38th annual tournament, held at Southern Oregon University, was the fifth and final competition of the season for the 250 students from 16 high schools that participated in the league. The competition covered all levels of math, from algebra to calculus.

Ashland High School senior Chris Siegl took home first place in the individual competition, garnering $100 and a trophy.

Ashland students Miles Nerenberg and Jason Bloom and South Medford High School student Wes Miller tied for second place in the individual competition and were awarded $75 each.

Ashland High School's three co-ed teams, each with six members, swept the team competition, where the students took turns solving math problems in groups of three. The school's teams, the Asymptotes, Go Figure! and Mopley took first, second and third place, respectively.

Ashland competed in division 4A, one of two divisions in the league, based on the sizes of the schools.

In addition to its three varsity teams, Ashland High School brought two junior varsity teams to the final competition. The school's JV 2 team won second place in the junior varsity tournament.

Out of the 30 that competed Tuesday, 10 Ashland students qualified for the state competition, which will be held in Eugene next month.

Ashland students, who came in first last year too, often excel in the tournaments, said Larry Shrewsbury, an SOU professor who organized Tuesday's event.

"Ashland does very well and that's historically been the case," he said.

SOU's entire math department pitched in to help grade the students' work at the tournament, Shrewsbury said.

The tournament gives students who are good at math a place to compete, said Jem Kloor, an Ashland High School junior on the Mopley team.

"I don't do any sports, so this is like my brain sport," she said. "There are a lot of sports and even science competitions, but math doesn't have a lot of things. So this is kind of like where we can shine."

Siegl, the 18-year-old winner, said he participates because "it's fun and it gets me out of class."

And Siegl is proof that participating in the competition can be a lucrative way to skip class. He plans to spend his $100 winnings, however, on a much more traditional high school experience.

"I'm going to spend it this weekend — on a limo for prom," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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