Math Team Finishes Season in ‘Middle of Pack’

Payton Van Pelt, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Ultimately one of the most underrated clubs in Notre Dame is the Math Team. Despite a “nerdy” stigma to the name, team competition truly brings something special out in people.

Recently the Math Team finished their last of many tournaments over a span of seven months from October to April.

“Anyone who’s taking a class at the high school can participate,” said Mr. Bryan Konshak, math teacher and adviser.  “There was a revolving group of about twelve to ten people.”

A few of the consistent members are Matthew Shade, Zach Kellner, James Kanning and Alana Mencheski.  The group ranges from freshman to seniors, and in the past, eighth graders that were taking a math class at Notre Dame were also part of the team.

Konshak has been leading Notre Dame students to the Green Bay Metro League for about eight years. Even before that, the Math Team was part of the Notre Dame Community- even since Konshak was in high school.

Each tournament features four individual rounds of four problems, each fifteen minutes long. Teams can consist of no more than four seniors and eight people.

“The questions vary,” explained Konshak, “anywhere from Algebra One, Algebra Two, Geometry, and then some advanced topics–kind of like what you would see on the ACT, but there is also a grab bag of trick questions.”

Konshak suggest that if you’ve had geo-trig or higher at Notre Dame, you would excel in this. It’s math, but it’s more of a logic issue.

The first problem is easy, but there’s an incline in difficulty. At the end of the night, the highest possible total you can receive is forty points.

“This year we were in about the middle of the pack,” he stated in terms of team score.

There are around 12 schools in the competition, ranging from Luxemburg Casco to the two De Pere schools. Since the Notre Dame Math Team had a smaller turn out, around ten to twelve kids, there was typically just one full team. Team One would then be the competing team.

Individually, junior Zach Kellner excelled. He took medals at the majority of the meets he attended and placed fourth out of 346 kids. Senior James Ruby scored fifth at one of the meets.

Yet, the most vital part of a Math Meet is the atmosphere. The kids want to be there, rather than students in a math classroom that are chewing down homework merely for the grade.

“When you sit in a room, and you’re proctoring a test, and the fifteen minutes are done, the first thing kids do is ‘Hey, what’d you get for number one?’ And you really can see that they’re honestly trying and wanting  to know the information,” beamed Konshak.

“When looking around the room, you can see these stereotypes being broken down. There are the “football guys” winning medals and placing at math meet,” he said..

“We don’t meet any other time very much, so a lot of it comes down to them doing things on their own, their own abilities, their own practice, and so I really enjoy it when they get something back,” Konshak said. “I get really excited for them when they see their hard work and their accomplishments.”

Everyone who is taking a math class at Notre Dame can join the Math Team. Your mathematical ability or skill does not matter. Yet, once you begin to stick with it, and once you dedicate yourself to learning the math, you can see yourself improve.  

“I challenge every single one of these people to come out and see what it’s like,” urged Konshak. “Let’s bring home a first place plaque.”