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Mathletes square-off and score big in local Math Counts competition

Math Counts Competition

POCATELLO, Idaho - The numbers are in and ten young mathletes will represent southeast Idaho in the statewide Math Counts competition. This weekend's competition among middle schools from Malad up to Idaho Falls is helping get some of the region's brainiest kids get recognized.

Malad Middle School eighth grade student Mackenna Schow finished second place during Saturday's competition, putting Malad on the map after a six-year hiatus from making it into the statewide competition.

"We're kind of rare," Schow said of her fellow mathletes. "Everybody tries to be cool but I guess they don't want to be known as the smart kids in our school."

But, she's changing the name of the game. Now, it's cool to be a mathlete.

"They think you have to be pretty and all that fun stuff to be cool but they don't take into account that smart people are pretty cool, too," Schow said.

When interviewed, Schow didn't know she was already placed so highly above the rest of the hundreds of middle school students competing against her.

"I'm thinking we don't have a good chance of going back to the state finals again because some of our people from the team dropped out, so that makes it hard."

Not only does it make it hard, but it puts the pressure on Schow to help the other eight students carry the team name.

"That's kind of what we're known for at the moment, is our stupid post office robbery, because most people think of Malad as the small-town, stupid kdis that don't know anything," Schow said, determined to change that.

Southeast Idaho Chapter Math Counts Coordinator Krystal Chanda said she feels satisfaction in knowing there are so many kids interested in math these days.

"This morning I was saying I was more excited than Christmas morning to have all these mathletes come together to be able to have fun and enjoy themselves and do what they are good at and to be recognized for it," Chanda said.

With state funding toward education, the event was put on by 45 volunteers and community-wide sponsors.

Without them, she said they wouldn't be able to put this on.

"A lot of the coaches are teachers in the middle school and it's not part of their curriculum. They're meeting like an extra curricular activity to meet with these students and help coach them for today," Chanda said.

Chanda announced the top ten winners who will go on to compete in the statewide competition in Boise on March 8:

1. Brian Zhu from Grace Lutheran, Pocatello

2. Mackenna Schow from Malad Middle School, Malad

3. Sanghun Yu from Grace Lutheran, Pocatello

4. Adriene Pavek of Holy Spirit Catholic School, Pocatello

5. Andrew Perry of Pocatello Community Charter School, Pocatello

6. Brian Cole of Hawthorne Middle School, Pocatello

7. Travis Lee of Hawthorne Middle School, Pocatello

8. Jungho Park of Grace Lutheran Middle School, Pocatello

9. Tessa Larsen of Hawthorne Middle School, Pocatello

10. William Yik of Grace Lutheran Middle School, Pocatello

And the top three teams who will also be competing:

1. Grace Lutheran School, Pocatello 

2. Holy Spirit Catholic School, Pocatello 

3. Pocatello Community Charter School, Pocatello 

The top three winners will go on top compete in the national tournament held later this spring.

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