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For Ottoson, Gibbs math teams, focused work adds up to success

The Gibbs and Ottoson math teams have been busy this school year, and their focused activity is about to draw national notice for one of its participants.

Gibbs logo

Ottoson logoImpressive scores in chapter and state competition has vaulted Jiahe Liu, a seventh grader at Ottoson, into a nationwide test in May.

As contests around the country have gone online, they have become accessible to a wider audience, allowing our middle school math teams to take part in contests as far away as California.

In the fall, Ottoson took part in the online AreteLabs Math Madness tournament, matching up against schools from around the country. The Ottoson team won all four of their “seeding” contests, placing them in the top-level bracket, and the team lost by a small margin in the first round of the top bracket. 

As 2021 started, focus turned to the biggest middle school math contest of them all, MATHCOUNTS. Three rounds of official online practice contests determined the top-15 students in each school for the chapter contest. 

Challenging chapter

The top 20 percent of scorers in the chapter qualify for the chapter invitational. Arlington is in “MetroNorth,” the most difficult of the seven Massachusetts chapters, with teams from Lexington, Belmont, Winchester and Newton often taking top places. 

This made the qualifying cutoff an unusually high 43 out of 46, in a contest where the average participant typically scores between 25 and 30. Arlington’s only student in the top 20 percent was Ottoson seventh grader Jiahe Liu, with a perfect 46 out of 46, Arlington’s first perfect score. 

Just missing qualifying were two other Ottoson seventh graders, Yaxin Zhang and Xitiz Shakya, each with outstanding scores of 42 out of 46.

Other excellent scores in the mid-to-upper 30s were achieved by Jin Choi, Evan Zhu, John Archibald, Saisha Shukla and You-Yan Wang.

At Gibbs, no students were in the top 20 percent, but the top-scorer from each school automatically advances and Lupin Yu led the way, with 32 points. Many other Gibbs students received top scores in either the four practice rounds or the contest. They included Joshua Zhang, Harry Liu, Jake Ma, John Tyler Pajerowski, Owen Morgan-Zawilski, Cole Morgan-Zawilski and Spencer Carman. 

4th in state

Jiahe Liu scored 41 points at the chapter invitational to place fourth and advance to the state championship. The MetroNorth chapter snagged a whopping nine of the 11 statewide wildcard spots. That means 14 of the 46 state contest competitors were from the MetroNorth chapter, including one each from Arlington, Somerville, Medford and Newton, and 10 from Lexington.

At the state championship on March 25, Jiahe scored an impressive 42 out of 46, placing him first overall in the state of Massachusetts and qualifying him for the national competition from May 8 to 10.  

The top four students from each state get to compete for scholarships and other prizes in the MATHCOUNTS national competition. The final, head-to-head “countdown” round of this contest is typically televised on ESPN3. This year the national competition will be online and Jiahe will join students from Sharon, Acton and Sudbury to form the Massachusetts team. The state team will be coached by Arlington’s Gibbs and Ottoson math team coach, Jonathan McIntyre.  

As the math teams wind down their year, they will open their practices to fifth graders on Wednesday, May 12, and Thursday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. Fifth-grade students planning to attend Gibbs next year, and/or their parents, can connect to the Zoom call listed in the Math Team calendar >>

See an earlier photo of the teams here >>

Feb, 17, 2021: First in 5 years: Gibbs, Ottoson in state math competition


This news summary was published Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

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