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1st place Oak Grove: The 2016 Oak Grove High School mathletes dominated the fifth annual JCJC Bobcat Math League’s Super Bowl playoffs to claim the Championship for the first time in the team’s three attempts. The team split $1200 for their first place accomplishments in the playoff competition and for being a division winner. Their school also earned $1,200. Pictured in the front row, left to right is: Allen Huang, Jason Guo, Ruby Liang and Peter Liang. Pictured in the back row, left to right is: Co-coach, Whitney Necessary, Dhruv Patel, Sarah Greer, Chen Lan, and co-coach, Laura Lightsey.
2nd place West Jones: West Jones High School mathletes team last year, split $600 and their school will receive $600 for their second place accomplishments, taking full advantage of earning a “wild card” invitation in the JCJC Bobcat Math League’s Super Bowl playoff competition. Pictured from left to right on the front row is: Jess Cooley, Jack Taylor, Logan Parker and Nick Sumrall. Pictured in the back row, left to right is: Coach Courtney Hagan, Matt Boykin, Brandon Waldrup, Eva Kiparizoska, Karson Wardell, Lindsey Hughes and Candace Nolan.
ELLISVILLE –Switching from mostly math questions to integrating STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics questions into the high school competition known as Jones County Junior College’s Bobcat Math League (BML) proved to be challenging for many teams. As the League enters its sixth season with the second year utilizing the new STEM format, the League welcomes one team and bids farewell to another.
“Although this year’s competition has the same number of teams as last year (16), Richton will not be participating but Heidelberg High School will be joining the BML. We are looking forward to Heidelberg’s return after taking a year off from the League. We also hope Richton will re-join the League next year,” said Bobcat Math League Commissioner, Dr. Jessica Bunch.
Most of the 16 teams participating in this years’ competition, Collins – Tigers; Columbia Academy – Cougars; Heidelberg High – Oilers; Laurel High- Tornadoes; Northeast Jones- Tigers; Oak Grove-Warriors (2016 Champions); Perry Central- Bulldogs; Presbyterian Christian-Bobcats; Quitman-Panthers; Raleigh-Lions; Sacred Heart-Crusaders; South Jones-Braves; Sylva Bay- Saints; Wayne Academy –Jaguars; Wayne County-War Eagles; and West Jones-Mustangs (2nd place-2016), will all be on a fairly level playing field since graduation has taken a toll on the teams. The top teams in the 2016 playoffs, Oak Grove and West Jones are both rebuilding this year.
“We lost four of our strong senior leaders, but we have some really strong, young students to fill those positions. We are hoping to have a solid showing and be a competitive team this year,” said Richard Kline, Oak Grove High School Bobcat Math League coach.
Courtney Hagan, West Jones High School’s Bobcat Math League coach added, “This competition has gotten much harder since it no longer consists of just math. It is hard to prepare for some of the complicated questions, so we’re going to try our best! We had a player last year that knew a lot of random facts however, he graduated so we are hoping to do well.”
Hagan also noted her team is in a division this year, with teams that traditionally make the playoffs. The Archimedes Division consists of West Jones, Quitman, Perry Central and Columbia Academy. The Cougars of Columbia Academy ended their season in third place behind West Jones. However, Kathy Pearce, Columbia Academy’s Bobcat Math League coach is uncertain of her team’s ability to do as well.
“We have four returning members. Since we have a younger team this year, it is really too early to tell how we will do. Nonetheless, we enjoy the competition because we saw improvements in grades and ACT scores. (The Bobcat Math League) is an excellent experience to expose students to different levels of mathematics and students can see how their knowledge compares to other students,” said Pearce.
In the Pythagoras Division, Oak Grove High School is likely to lead the pack as the 2016 defending champions despite losing top seniors. Even though South Jones has been a part of the BML for the last couple of years, this years’ fledgling team is under the direction of new math coach, Cherie Burdette. This division will be tough for the Braves to reach the top with the Sylva Bay Saints who have been cultivating a young team, and perennial leader, Raleigh High School. Math coach, Cisly Boykin considers the Raleigh Lions will be one to watch.
“We have 10 returning players. We are super excited about the competition even though many of my strong seniors graduated.”
Another team to watch is the Wayne Academy Jaguars. As they enter their third year participating in the JCJC Bobcat Math League, math coach, Heidi Leggett has witnessed the overall growth in her students.
“This year, we have students who have participated the last three years and know what to expect in the competitions. I believe we will continue to grow and be more competitive this year. Our students are already working hard to prepare by taking the pre-tests,” Leggett proudly shared.
Wayne Academy may be prepared but they will face stiff competition in their division with perennial finalists and the 2015 Champions, the Bobcats of Presbyterian Christian High School. Also in the Gates Division are the Tornadoes of Laurel and the Oilers of Heidelberg High School.
Galileo Division leaders, the Sacred Heart Crusaders have a legacy of success in senior, Nick Gallardo who has been an active member of the team. Additionally, his elder brother, Matthew Gallardo was the 2015 Most Outstanding Player and helped lead the Crusaders to win the 2015 Championships. Nick will certainly have some pressure to follow in his brother’s footsteps of success.
“We feel more comfortable with the new format including STEM questions as part of the competition. Hopefully, we are more prepared as we look forward to the matches and being a tough opponent this year,” said Gallardo, who is backed up by Sacred Heart sophomore, Abigail Wiest.
Northeast Jones finished in fourth place last year and should be a strong contender again this year, despite the loss of some strong seniors. Collins and Wayne County have the chance to emerge and prove to be worthy of leading the division and post-season play, since this will be the first time most of these teams have faced each other.
“In making out the 2017 (regular season) schedule, an emphasis was placed on matching teams that had not played each other in previous seasons,” said JCJC Math Division Chair, instructor and Bobcat Math League scoreboard technician and referee, Dr. Corey Jones. “Hopefully, this will add another aspect to the competition that will challenge and improve the mathletes’ skills.”
Mathletes will have questions with definitions, multiple choice, computational and visual math, as well as history questions related to STEM fields. Commissioner Bunch explained the League needed to expand the scope of the competition to give students a broader range of experience and knowledge. However, fifty-five percent of the questions will be math-related.
“The regular season matches will continue to be partly written test and partly quiz bowl type competition for students. Participants will take tests with paper and pencil for the first half of the regular season. The second half will prepare students for the final playoffs with the addition of the buzzer system and a moderator asking questions,” explained Bunch.
The six-week regular season begins September 18, and will end Tuesday, October 24, with the final playoffs and Math “Super Bowl” to be held on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. All 16 teams will be invited to attend the postseason when the top players will be recognized from each team. Also, the All-League Team and Most Outstanding Player will be recognized at the final competition. The six playoff teams will be determined by regular season results.