“I knew they would do well, but I didn’t know they would do that well,” Monte Vista team coach Dawn Arbogast said. “The kids were excited.”
Arbogast, who also teaches sixth and seventh grades, said she took two teams to the competition. The winning team, Team 6, consisted of sixth-grader Wentinn Liao, seventh-graders Nathan Tran, Michael Cui and Jada Hallman and eighth-grader Cifriana Dela Cruz.
“The competition was very difficult,” Arbogast said. “There are individual tests and team tests, 20 questions altogether. Everything is timed. You have to get it (each math problem) right and done in the time limit.”
The five top teams in the competition were all from Tracy or Mountain House. In second place was Team 1 from Williams Middle School, followed by Team 3 from Questa School in Mountain House, third place; Team 9 from Jefferson School, fourth place; and Team 11 from Williams, fifth place.
Preparations for the Olympiad and for the San Joaquin Valley MathCounts competition, which was held in February, began in September, she said. In addition to meeting once a week after school to practice as a team, some of the team members participated in weekend practice competitions in the Bay Area.
Wentinn, one of the standouts on the Monte Vista team, started getting special math training from Arbogast when he was a third-grader. Nathan and seventh-grader Alex Klassen also started training in third grade.
Because of Wentinn’s advanced math skills, county officials have been letting him compete at the seventh-and-eighth-grade level since he was in fifth grade, Arbogast said. He placed ninth in the state at a competition at Stanford University in March.
“Wentinn is a natural,” she said. “We were hoping by the time he is in the eighth grade, he will place in the top four and go onto nationals.”
Wentinn was one of five high-scoring Olympiad competitors, along with Tyler Akbary of Questa School in Mountain House, Rahul Arora of Jefferson School, Ravneet Dhillon of Stella Brockman School in Manteca and James Molamphy of Hong Kingston School in Stockton.
Two students, Alex and sixth-grader Htut Khaung Oo, won individual medals for Monte Vista’s Math Counts team during the competition in February at University of the Pacific. That competition is considered to be more challenging than the Olympiad, with questions that start easy and get progressively harder.
“I’m not surprised,” Arbogast said of her students’ achievements. “They are all really bright in math.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4225.