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Two local middle school mathletes will head to the state Math Counts competition this Saturday

PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT FISCHER
 - The Crook County Middle School team placed third in the Feb. 23 Central Oregon Chapter Math Counts Competition. Pictured left to right, Matt Fischer, Aspen Gunderson, Stephen Strong, Zane Webster, River Nortz (front), Ashton Jarrell, Jacob Mead and Aiden Teague.

A couple of Crook County Middle School math whizzes know that math counts, and they proved it by winning a spot in a state math championship.

Seventh-grader Jacob Mead placed second and eighth-grader Zane Webster placed third at the Central Oregon Chapter Math Counts Competition held Feb. 23 at Cascades Academy in Bend.

The seven-member CCMS team took third place.

"We take students to this competition every year because it gives them another opportunity to do some higher-level math and because they enjoy the competition of it," said CCMS math teacher Matt Fischer, who coached the team.

The CCMS team was comprised of seventh-graders Aspen Gunderson, River Nortz, Jacob Mead and Ashton Jarrell and eighth-graders Aiden Teague, Zane Webster and Stephen Strong.

A team of middle school mathletes from Cascade Middle School of Bend took top honors at the Central Oregon Chapter Math Counts Competition. Members of the winning team were Kush Goyal, Owen McCormick, Katrina Whitmore and Penny Yost and coach Brian Kent. The team will now advance to the Oregon State Competition, to be held at Mentor Graphics in Wilsonville on March 9.

The top three individuals were Eric Verheyden in first place, an eighth grader from Cascades Academy in Bend, followed by CCMS students Mead and Webster. All three individuals will also advance to the state competition on Saturday.

Cascades Academy in Bend earned second place, CCMS was third, and Saint Francis School in Bend placed fourth.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT FISCHER
 - Crook County Middle School eighth-grader Zane Webster, left, and seventh-grader Jacob Mead placed in the top three at the Central Oregon Chapter Math Counts Competition and will compete at the state level Saturday in Wilsonville."It's really fun to see students get the opportunity to get rewarded for something they work hard at and love to do," Fischer said. "They get really into solving problems, and this gives them a chance to see and work through problems they've never seen before. It's very challenging, and that's very satisfying to students who want to take it on."

The competition is comprised of three rounds — Sprint, Target and Team.

The Sprint Round focuses on speed and accuracy. Students have 40 minutes to complete 30 math problems without a calculator.

The Target Round focuses on problem-solving and mathematical reasoning. Students receive four pairs of problems and have six minutes to complete each pair, assuming the use of a calculator.

The Team Round focuses on problem-solving and collaboration. Students have 20 minutes to complete 10 math problems, assuming the use of a calculator.

More than 100,000 students across the U.S. participate each year in the Math Counts Competition Series, a national math competition that aims to build confidence and problem-solving skills for students who participate. Programs like Math Counts help students to succeed in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) careers of the future.

The chapter program is sponsored by Lonza. Leadership at the local levels of the Math Counts Competition Series is provided by members of the Central Oregon Chapter of the Professional Engineers of Oregon.

Fischer said he's very proud of his students and is very excited to see what the future holds for them.

"They are not only good math students, but also very good people," he said. "This was a fun year of Math Counts because of how into math this team of students was. They are fantastic kids."

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