MacDuffie Math Team Wins WMML Championship


Savannah Richard

Students answer problems during the WMML meet held in the MacDuffie cafeteria in the fall.

Ian Hua, Copy Editor

The MacDuffie math team reclaimed its spot at the top of the Western Mass Mathematics League after finishing 11 points in front of Longmeadow High School this season. Their last match was held at Wilbraham and Monson Academy on February 5th.

MacDuffie went into the last match ahead of Longmeadow by 15 points, which was enough to keep them in first despite finishing 4 points behind Longmeadow that day.

According to math teacher Peter Shelburne, the team’s head coach, MacDuffie won the league championship two years ago but took second to Longmeadow last year, making this year’s victory all the more special.

“Longmeadow kind of snuck up on us last year and beat us; they had a really good team. They had a good team this year too, but it felt good that we were able to keep our lead and beat them this year,” he said.

Senior Sherry He, captain of the math team, said that it felt good to win even though she missed the last match; in fact it was something of a relief after being led to believe the team had lost.

“When [the team] finished the competition, they told me that we got beat by Longmeadow,” she said, however, “the next day they told me it was actually a joke.”

At each match schools are given six ten minute quizzes with three questions worth 1, 2, and 3 points. There is also a team round at some matches, where the whole team works on six questions together. This year the 6 members of the team include He, seniors Oliver Wang, and Collin Wu, juniors Nicholas Wang and Trung Nguyen, and sophomore Judy Zhu. Junior Athis Osathapan and Sophomore Andrew Lu are alternates (if another team member isn’t present).

Students preparing for a WMML math meet at MacDuffie in the fall. This was the first meet of the season according to team captain, senior Sherry He. MacDuffie would go on to win the meet. Photo by Savannah Richard.

Because the team changes every year (seniors leave, and all of last year’s members must try out for the team along with everyone else) every season is unique.

“One thing that I do think made the team special is that Sherry, the captain, really made an effort with this group to have some practice sessions… Honestly, not every team in the past has done that and I think it really made a difference for this team,” Shelburne said.

In comparison to other teams in the league this year, the problem solving speed of MacDuffie’s team was also key in helping them win.

“You only have ten minutes and the problems always have something a little tricky or unusual about them— they’re not just typical problems. So I think… it’s our quickness, the quick thinking and the quick algebra skills of our students that make them really successful,” Shelburne said.

The math team will now move onto the state meet where they will compete with other small schools, unlike in the regular season where bigger schools like Deerfield and Longmeadow are their main competitors.  

“There are some amazing… math focused schools that really train for these things and they’re incredible. So we will do OK, but we won’t be the best school there,” Shelburne said.

However, he feels optimistic about MacDuffie’s chances in the future.

I think we’ll have a really good team next year,” he said.