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Mathletes Go for the Gold

Under the guidance of Captain Jason Jung ’09, the Math Team continued its dominance in the Western Massachusetts Mathematics League, with the help of a handful of newcomers, and a Thai superstar.

Many new students joined the Mathletes this year. Among them are Michelle Ju ’10, who remarked that the Mathletes is “like JV to me,” and Henry ‘Cool as a Cucumber’ Lee ’12. He is dauntless, despite being one of the few underclassmen on the team. Jung believes Lee has the potential to be a Mathlete legend.

Possibly the most heralded Mathlete in recent memory, Ice Pasupat ’09 is money at math. One of the few students to win a gold medal at the International Math Olympics, Pasupat is a scholar and also a part of the national math team in Thailand. The math department was forced to buy another trophy cabinet to accommodate all of the prizes won with individual and team efforts.

Some Mathletes carry lucky charms into battle. Assistant Captain James Lu ’10 carries a jade stone since legend has it that 2009 is a good year to carry anything green. Co-Assistant Captain Ellen Shin ’10 changes the color of her nails the night before any competition. She says the colors can help distract opponents. Jung wears a t-shirt won in a New England’s math competition, designed to be especially comfortable to maximize math performance.

The stamina needed in a marathon does not compare to that needed in a three-hour math competition. Pep-talks are unnecessary; they just “go in there and do their thing from start to finish” as Ju put it. If five-minute breaks are provided, opposing teams bring in a picnic’s worth of food, but the Deerfield Mathletes need only water, electrolytes, and their brain muscles. Jung easily slips into the zone, prepared to face whatever is thrown at him.

The team knows that hours of practice lead to good results. That is why the team meets every Sunday at 2 p.m. for practice. Many of them also study on their own. Pasupat, for example, will study math for hours on end to prepare for a difficult meet. Others, such as Jung and Shin will sacrifice their summers for one-on-one coaching in math.

The hard work certainly shone through in Deerfield’s first appearance in the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tourney. With the highest individual score, Pasupat placed first in two categories.

“[The] incoming students added a lot of life and that, combined with the talent already in place, made the year successful,” said Jung, “and at the same time, it was a great group of people to be around this year.” As Jung said, the victories and broken records were all achieved only through the great teamwork that is the Deerfield Academy Mathletes.