It never hurts to have a seasoned veteran working with the younger kids.
Teams of mathletes in grades six through eight from Warren County competed in the Chapter Level MATHCOUNTS Competition at Gannon University on Saturday, Feb. 23.
A total of 15 Learning Enrichment Center students, three eighth graders, five seventh graders, and seven sixth graders, attended the competition.
Each student worked individually on a variety of math problems during two rounds. Teams worked together in the third round.
The results of the first three rounds were added together to determine a ranking.
Rachel Cecco, an eighth grader at Beaty-Warren Middle School, was the county's top individual finisher in 10th place out of 120 students.
The top 10 finishers, including Cecco, participated in the high-pressure, head-to-head Countdown Round in which the first student to answer three questions correctly winning and moving on. Cecco faced off against and was defeated by the ninth place student, ending her competition.
The coach, LEC math teacher Kellie Blasco, may send no more than 10 students from any school, and may select a team of no more than four students per school.
The relatively young teams finished in seventh (Beaty) and 14th (Eisenhower) out of 20 teams.
Blasco is already looking to the future.
"The few seventh graders that I have will add experience and leadership to next year's squad," she said.
But, despite their extra year of learning, the seventh graders will have to work to lock down spots on the roster. "I plan to hold the school level competition earlier next year so I can decide who will go to the chapter competition and what four will make up the team," she said. "Seniority will only mean so much next year. Talent is the name of the game."
"A few of the sixth graders have what it takes to be successful in the Countdown Round," she said. "They are really good at number theory and thinking quickly and confidently - but they have to get there first, which takes a lot of touch problem solving including some tough geometry."
"The chapter level countdown round used factoring - a concept taught at the end of algebra I - four times," Blasco said. "We have two years to perfect the algebra and geometry needed to have a strong finish at the chapter level."
She said the talent, interest, and competitive nature bode well for the county's performance at the chapter level in years to come.
The success of the students speaks well on the work being done throughout Warren County. "The mathematical ability they possess reflects well on the instruction they receive from their teachers," Blasco said.
Students who participated at the chapter level competition were: Cecco, Austin Musante, Nick Lindsey, Caitlin Strassburg, Maxx Davis, Rachel Lynds, and Emmanuelle Satcho of Beaty; Aidan Farrell, Lydia Giannini, Dominick Giannini, Brodie VanOrd, Eric Corse, and Trenten Dippold of Eisenhower Middle High School; and Rebekah Hogg and Dean Procter of Youngsville Elementary Middle School.
Former MATHCOUNTS chapter level champion Brandon Eschborn, now a sophomore at Warren Area High School, worked with the current mathletes in preparation for the event.
Eschborn finished first at the chapter level competition in 2011 and second in 2010. He qualified for the state championship each year. He was the Warren County School District Mathcounts champion for 2008 through 2011, including the year he was in fifth grade.
"He was an inspiration and a wealth of knowledge to my current mathletes," Blasco said.
She plans to make use of his expertise by allowing students to practice with and against Eschborn.