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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow ‘Mathletes’ shine at EOU


‘Mathletes’ shine at EOU


La Grande High School student Morgan Craddock races across the Quinn Coliseum floor during the math-relay, the  culminating event of Tuesday’s Math competition activities at Eastern Oregon University. Chris Baxter/The Observer
La Grande High School student Morgan Craddock races across the Quinn Coliseum floor during the math-relay, the culminating event of Tuesday’s Math competition activities at Eastern Oregon University. Chris Baxter/The Observer

by Dick Mason/The Observer

The best and brightest of La Grande High School’s math students combined foot speed with a knowledge of algebra, calculus and geometry to race past the local competition Tuesday at the annual Eastern Oregon Regional Math Contest.  

LHS Team A finished tied for first in the large school division with Vale High School Team Black at the regional math contest at Eastern Oregon University.

“I was pumped,’’ said LHS sophomore Jade Venutolo, a member of Team A.

LHS math teacher Shelby Sherrod, the adviser of the two LHS teams entered in the competition, expressed pride in how his students fared as they shared joyful exchanges after the event.

“This is a celebration of excellence,’’ Sherrod said. 

In the math relay at Quinn Coliseum, students would run the length of the gym to a table. There, they would complete a math problem. Then they would run back to their squad. Then a teammate would repeat the process. 

Relay teams were evaluated on their time and the number of correct answers. LHS Team A won the relay. Its most colorful runner was Tyler Isaacson, who imitated the gait of an ostrich.

“It helped me relax,’’ Isaacson said.

The regional math event opened in the morning with a skills competition. This consisted of a statewide exam. Students took one of six exams based on their current math  level in high school: pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, algebra 2, precalculus and calculus. 

Students who did well in this competition were invited to a state competition later this spring. The skills competition did not count in the scoring. 

Events at the Eastern Oregon Regional Math Competition also included a “Solve That Problem’’ contest, math’s answer to “Name That Tune.’’ 

In the event, students bid on a math problem described for them. Bidding started at two minutes. The contestant with the lowest bid got the first chance to solve the problem. 

The student with the low bid for each problem would attempt to answer it within the allotted time on an overhead projector.

“There was a lot of pressure because everyone was watching you,’’ said Josh Jenkins, a member of LHS Team A, who won his division of  “Solve That Problem.’’

 Jenkins was among many LHS students to compete
all school year to make one
of his school’s math teams. 

Spots on the teams were as coveted as positions on varsity athletic  squads.

“We call them (the students on the math teams) ‘mathletes,’’’  Sherrod  said.

LHS was of about 17 high schools at the competition. The list included Cove High School, whose adviser is Lisa Murchison, a CHS math teacher.  Murchison brings a unique perspective to the event because she competed in it in the 1980s while a student at CHS. She later helped put on the event as a volunteer while a student at Eastern.

“It gives students one more opportunity to shine,’’ Murchison said.

She credits the continuing popularity of the event to the opportunity it gives students to test their skills against one another.  

“It’s the competition. Kids love it,’’ Murchison said.

The results of the State Exam at the Eastern Oregon Regional Math Contest will be published on Monday’s Community page. The top  three placers all qualified for state competition later this spring.


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