by Cori Hilsgen
Two Sartell residents, Tina and Henry Chen, were part of the St. John’s Preparatory School math team that earned first-place in the Beta class at the Minnesota State High School Mathematics League tournament March 12 at South St. Paul High School.
Junior Tina Chen and freshman Henry Chen were part of the winning team that also included Toto Chen (Shanghai), David Feng (Harbin Heilongjiang, China), Zander Haws (St. Cloud), Emily Huang (Shanghai), James Liu (Beijing), Ally Wang (Shanghai) and Christine Xu (Changshu, Jiangsu, China).
This is Tina’s third year she has been involved with the math team.
“I decided to join the math team because I really enjoy doing challenging math problems and I thought this would be a great way to do math in a competitive way,” she said. “I really wasn’t expecting the win because we had the fourth highest season total in our class, but I was really excited when we won.”
After high school, Tina said she hopes to study engineering or physics.
Henry has been with the math team for two years and this is his first year on the state math team. He first decided to join the team because his math teacher recommended he join.
“I like math and I thought it was going to be fun,” Henry said. “Being at state was a humbling experience because I got to see and talk to many great mathematicians my age.”
During the summer, he hopes to improve his math skills so he can perform better next year.
After high school, Henry said he hopes to study something related to physics and mathematics.
Henry and Tina’s parents are Michelle and Tony Chen.
St. John’s Prep math teacher Mary Rueter coaches the math team that includes 40 students in grades nine-12.
The Minnesota State High School Mathematics League predetermines topics for each meet.
Students on the St. John’s Prep math team began practicing in October and practice one and one-half hours each week. Practices include reviewing the math topics for the upcoming meet and working problems related to the topic. Rueter uses copies of previously used tests to help the team practice.
She chooses eight students from the math team to compete on the varsity team for each meet. League rules require at least two of the eight varsity team members must be sophomores or younger.
There are five regular-season meets. St. John’s Prep is in the Central Gopher Conference that includes Sartell, St. John’s Prep, Albany, Apollo, Cathedral, Rocori, Sauk Rapids-Rice and Tech. These schools compete at each meet.
St. John’s Prep finished in first place in the Central Gopher Conference, which qualified them to compete in the state tournament.
At the tournament, each student takes two, 15-minute individual written tests that contain four questions. The team then works together for 30 minutes to solve six very complicated problems. The scores on the individual and team test are added together for the team score.
Rueter has been teaching math for 25 years, the last five of which have been with St. John’s Prep. This is her 10th year of coaching a math team and the seventh time she has had students competing at the state tournament.
This is the third year St. John’s Prep has had a math team. They have won the Central Gopher Division all three years and competed at the state tournament three times.
Minnehaha Academy took second place and Mahtomedi High School took third place in the Beta class at the tournament.
The Minnesota State High School Mathematics League identifies and recognizes students who have unusual mathematical ability and offers them the chance to study topics not usually taught in the high-school curriculum. Currently, more than 3,000 students participate in the league, which includes 172 schools in 25 divisions.
For additional information, visit the http://mnmathleague.org website.