Brahma Mathletes named National Champs

Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley U.S.D.

Photo courtesy of Walnut Valley U.S.D.

By Kelli Gile

DIAMOND BAR Diamond Bar High’s Math Team wrapped up its undefeated season in dramatic fashion.

After eight weeks of exciting competition against hundreds of schools across the nation, the Diamond Bar students were named the national Math Madness champions on December 11.

Math Madness is a national online event inspired by college basketball’s March Madness tournament. Teams in the contest, which is sponsored by the American Mathematics Association (AMA), play in a round-robin format and then are seeded into a draw of 64 teams.

First reports from the December 9 finals ranked the Brahmas as second place finishers against competitors from Valley Christian High School in San Jose.  Two days later, officials announced that the first place team had cheated, and named the Brahmas the winners

“We knew that the final match was going to be very, very close,” commented math teacher and advisor Jeff Brose.   Teachers Dena Lorde and Jimmy Kuo served as co-advisors and retired teacher Howard Alcosser as Coach Emeritus.

Each 30-minute weekly match contained a set of 10 questions which became more difficult as the competition progressed.  “In one of our matches this year, we earned the deciding point with just seconds remaining,” said Brose, whose team played in the Division IIE, which is the division made up of teams with more than 20 active members.  “Making it to the finals this year was a pretty big thing,” Brose said. The school’s best finish to date was making it to the quarterfinals.

“They (Valley Christian) had been performing on par with us through the tournament,” he added.

Playing other opponents in the semifinals, DBHS earned 69 points and Valley Christian earned 70 points. The team score was comprised of the top players’ scores.  In the final match, Diamond Bar earned 62 points, with about 60 students competing.  “Valley Christian shocked everyone by earning a whopping 93 points,” Brose said.

Diamond Bar’s top performer was Benjamin Chen, who was able to earn 9/10 on the final.  Ben is ranked #21 in the nation out of over 17,000 students.  Runner-ups Sabrina Tseng and William He each scored 7’s on the exam.

“When Valley Christian turned in an unbelievable six perfect 10/10 scores, AMA’s Tim Kelley determined they had cheated,” Brose said.  In the end, Diamond Bar was awarded the championship.   “This capped a truly unforgettable season,” said Brose.  The students learned some lifelong lessons, including the value of working as a team toward a goal and performing under pressure with poise and integrity, Brose said.  “And they learned some cool math too!” he quipped.

Diamond Bar High was among a select group of schools invited to join the new Math Madness competition when it began a few years ago.  Since then the contest has grown tremendously.
“Being named the champions is a major accomplishment, because a large number of the schools involved in the contest are private schools, prep schools, and specialized math and STEM academies,” Alcosser said.