All-girl math team heads to state

TRIMONT – Four girls from Martin County West Junior High School will participate at the state level this weekend in Math Counts, a nationwide math competition.

The team began with 16 members earlier this year, with the local competition sponsored by 3M.

“The top 10 from the local competition went to regionals in Mankato,” said Karen McConnell, a Math Counts coach. “From there, our top team qualified for state. It’s an all-girl team, which is very exciting for us, because when you go to these math competitions, there are an overwhelming number of boys there.”

The team consists of eighth-graders Emily Ziemer and Maggie Bachenberg; seventh-grader Jordan Stahl; and sixth-grader Abby Bachenberg. Ziemer and Stahl are in their second year of Math Counts, after being encouraged to sign up by math teacher Hannah Sampe, who also coaches Math Counts.

“They’re seeing things from algebra, geometry, even a little bit of trig,” McConnell said. “There are a lot of logical and reasoning problems, because they’re all word problems.”

Competition is divided into three parts: two individual categories in which students need to solve a certain number of word problems in a set amount of time. One portion is without a calculator, while in the other portion, calculators are allowed.

“But those problems are a lot harder,” Maggie Bachenberg said of the “calculators allowed” problems.

Finally, there is the team competition, in which the group works together to solve a set of problems.

“We were so surprised when we learned we were going to state,” Ziemer said.

The girls have been preparing for state with weekly practices, taking on material that is more difficult than what is usually taught in their classrooms.

“A lot of triangles,” Maggie Bachenberg said when asked what types of problems they have been seeing.

A sendoff pep rally for the girls will be held this afternoon at the junior high. From there, they are traveling to Plymouth to compete at state, along with 131 students from 26 schools.

From there, the top four students will become the team from Minnesota at the national competition in Washington, D.C.

“That would make me so nervous, going there alone,” Ziemer said when the girls learned that individuals, not teams, will qualify to go to Washington.

“Then we all need to tie for first,” Maggie Bachenberg offered, breaking the tension.

“We appreciate 3M sponsoring us, because they have covered our competition fees, and got us shirts,” McConnell said. “We are so proud of these girls because they worked really hard, and I really am psyched that it’s an all-girl team. I really felt they could do this and they have.”