BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN For some people, 13 is a lucky number.
For others, 13 is considered unlucky.
For the Delano High School Math Team, 13 is the number of consecutive times the team has qualified for the state tournament, which will take place Monday, March 14, at South St. Paul High School.
Delano qualified for the tournament by placing second in its conference behind Lakeville for the third consecutive year, while also being ranked 20th overall before the final conference meet.
The team was one point away from winning the conference for the first time since Lakeville North and Lakeville South merged teams three years ago.
The difference between winning the conference and taking second came down to a communication problem.
“In the team event, there’s eight of them in a room working together and one of them is recording answers,” coach Jerry Shouts said. “They miscommunicated an answer they had right, which was a four-point problem, and we lost by one point. Had we taken first in that meet, we would’ve been first for the season. We were that close.”
The Delano team took first place twice during the season.
A total of 35 students make up the math team. At each meet, the scores of eight varsity members, including at least two in 10th grade or younger, count for the team score.
Seniors Nichole Hannan and Chase Soukup; juniors Stephanie Almquist, Allysa Dunnigan, Seth Thoelke, and Jack Weber; sophomores Duc Do and Nic Poll; and freshman alternate Nicole Pupp will represent the team at state.
They will navigate questions in the categories of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus, with each team member participating in two events, followed by a team event.
“The team event is an accumulation of all those types of problems,” Shouts said. “Every meet, the topics within algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus change. When you go to state, it can be anything from the whole season. It’s problem types they’ve seen before.”
Preparation includes going over packets of questions and learning whether or not calculators can be used for each event.
“The problems at state are based on the problems during the season, so to prepare for state, they study the problems they did during the season,” Shouts said.
As the team prepares for state, they have a goal in mind.
“We just want to do the best we can,” Shouts said. “We always hope we can improve on our state ranking.”
Students enjoy having well-rounded math skills, not to mention the camaraderie.
“It’s nice to sharpen old math skills we don’t use a lot and hang out with the team,” Weber said.
“These guys are in calculus 2, which is beyond the scope of math team, so they’re reviewing a lot of skills from previous years,” Shouts said.
He believes students enjoy the low-pressure atmosphere of math team.
“You’re never in front of anybody and no one knows your score, unless you tell them, other than me,” Shouts said.
He has been recruiting students to join math team for 27 years, reaching a peak of 84 students one year.
He has seen the activity grow from 12 teams to 250 teams throughout the state, and he likes watching his team compete with the best of the best each year.
“I enjoy it every year,” Shouts said. “Obviously, it’s way more fun to win, but I’ve enjoyed every year . . . It’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t eat up a lot of time.”