High-Scorers Mike Sullivan and Kevin Xia Lead Walpole High Math Team

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Finishing the competition as Walpole’s second highest scorer, this junior competes at the Math Meet on February 5.

Meagan Sundstrom

Finishing the competition as Walpole's second highest scorer, this junior competes at the Math Meet on February 5.
Finishing the competition as Walpole’s second highest scorer, this junior competes at the Math Meet on February 5.

 

You have 10 minutes to complete the following without a calculator:

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Think you could get a perfect score?

In the first two meets of the 2014-2015 math team season, junior Mike Sullivan received perfect scores.  As Walpole’s high-scorer for the first two meets on November 6 and December 4, 2014 and second highest scorer for the third and fourth meets on January 8 and February 5, 2015, Sullivan is certainly an asset to Walpole High’s math team.  In addition to Sullivan, junior Kevin Xia is a top performer for the WHS math team: he was Walpole’s second highest scorer in the first two meets and Walpole’s highest scorer in the third and fourth meets.  After the final meet of the season, Xia became the math team’s overall highest scorer for this season.

Now ranked third in their Division behind Sharon and Dover-Sherborn, Walpole also competes against Dedham, Dover-Sherborn, Medway, Sharon, and the Norfolk Aggie in their Division of the Southeastern Massachusetts Mathematics League (SMML), which is comprised of 36 teams.  Walpole took fourth place in the first meet, third place in both the second and third meets, and third place in the fourth meet at the Norfolk Aggie.

For the playoffs, the first place team within each division automatically qualifies and the next three top teams in the league also make it.  Although the overall results with Walpole’s final league ranking have not yet been determined, however, it is unlikely that Walpole will advance into the playoffs.

Throughout the season, Walpole’s high-scorers Mike Sullivan and Kevin Xia remained important components of Walpole’s success.  Sullivan joined the math team midway through his freshman year when the team needed more underclassmen.  Since then, he has excelled as a math team competitor; particularly, he is strong in the Algebra categories such as solving complex rational expressions that involve factoring.  Due to his current enrollment in Pre-calculus Honors, Sullivan also succeeds in trigonometric topics.

“He has really been a force to be reckoned with this year, earning perfect scores in our first two meets and double digits in the third,” said faculty supervisor Mrs. Kathleen Milne. “Mike remains calm under pressure and will do whatever rounds I think will be most beneficial to the team.”

This junior mathlete competes at the Math Meet on February 5.  He finished the competition season as Walpole's highest scorer.
This junior mathlete competes at the Math Meet on February 5. He finished the competition season as Walpole’s highest scorer. (Photo/ Meagan Sundstrom)

Xia has also been part of the Walpole math team since his freshman year, during which he took Pre-calculus Honors and handled advanced topics that are usually given to upperclassmen.  Last year, he received the Outstanding Sophomore Award and completed AP Calculus, further strengthening his work with advanced categories.

“Having completed AP Calculus as a sophomore, Kevin is able to do any category,” said Mrs. Milne.  “He is intuitive and knowledgable and works well under the time pressure of completing three questions in ten minutes.”

Walpole’s other assets include increases in team spirit and the number of students on the team.  The rising number of females and juniors that participated on the team this year was also an advantage for Walpole, as they had more alternates at the meets.

“We benefit by having more people on the team so we can select those who have strengths in the topics of the month,” said Mrs. Milne.  “Team members benefit by constantly working on challenging problems and by being part of an academic team.”

However, Walpole’s weaknesses occur in the fourth and fifth rounds of the meets, for the problems involve difficult topics such as complex factoring.  The small time frame given to complete the rounds is also a challenge for some competitors.

“I think the time limit is what’s really holding everyone back,” said Xia.

Nonetheless, the team is optimistic about next season, for their young and experienced members will be able to handle more advanced math categories in shorter amounts of time.

“With only three seniors on this year’s team, Jen Conroy, Alex Phan, and Melanie Caneja, I am optimistic about next year’s team,” said Mrs. Milne.  “Our current members will have a stronger knowledge base as well as more experience. The hope would be to make the playoffs and maybe even States next year.”

Despite not making the playoffs, Walpole’s youth and increasing amount student participation offers strong potential for upcoming seasons.  With high-scorers Xia and Sullivan leading the team into next year’s season, Walpole’s math team will continue to strive for perfect scores and a spot in the playoffs in the future.