But team members don’t have much time to celebrate.
Advanced Placement exams are coming up for many on the Buchholz team, followed by a regional team competition in Athens, Ga., in June, several weeks of intensive practice on their math skills, followed by nationals in Dallas in mid-July.
The schedule is so rigorous that some Buchholz seniors have elected to miss their high school graduation rather than miss a math competition.
Saturday’s victory at the state high school math championships, an event hosted by the Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta at the Doubletree at Universal Studios in Orlando, offered a solid start to a pivotal four months for the Buchholz team.
Forty-two students from Buchholz were among some 1,400 students representing roughly 60 schools from across Florida who competed in three divisions in the two-day competition.
Buchholz won two of the three divisions, winning the Alpha division (precalculus) decisively, winning the Mu division (calculus) in a down-to-the-wire battle and finishing fifth in the Theta division (geometry and algebra 2). By comparison, Buchholz swept all three divisions last year to win state.
This weekend, Buchholz finished with 4,234 points, 108 better than second-place American Heritage, of Plantation, to win its seventh straight state title. Going into this year’s state competition, Buchholz and Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School had been tied with six straight state titles each.
“There are really four other schools who are really putting forth a lot of effort and closing the gap,” explained Buchholz math coach Will Frazer, who was with the team in Orlando this weekend. Aside from American Heritage, the other schools offering tough competition for Buchholz were Rickards, Seminole and Cypress Bay, Frazer said.
“In some ways, I was kind of worried. But then again, it’s also a good thing having some good competition. I think it has rejuvenated the attitude of the team as well as the coaches. We’ve kind of been going sideways while other schools have been moving up. We’re going to have to respond and pick our game up.”
Frazer said that winning the calculus division in a close battle with Cypress Bay provided the margin of victory Saturday.
“We were in second going to the team round,” Frazer said of the calculus division, but Buchholz took over first midway through the final round.
Frazer singled out Buchholz seniors Hansol Kang and Jackson Looney for their leadership as Buchholz barely won the calculus division.
Frazer said that he was especially pleased that Buchholz repeated as state champs this weekend, considering the distractions of late.
“They had a week of spring break, and FCAT week, and then a lot of seniors have been traveling, checking out colleges,” he said. “So over the last three weeks, there hasn’t been much time for practicing.”
Next for Buchholz will be the American Regional Math League, or ARML, competition set to begin June 4 in Athens, Ga., in which most Southeastern states will send an all-star team of high school math stars to compete. Buchholz was granted permission to break away from Florida’s all-star team and send its own team to compete, which Frazer says will give the team a valuable experience — albeit distinctly different from state and nationals, since the all-star team members don’t get much time to practice with each other.
The students’ commitment to competing is so strong, Frazer said, that several seniors on the math team will have to miss graduation ceremonies in order to be part of the event in Athens.
After Athens, there will be five weeks of summer camp to prepare for Dallas — which will include three sessions a week of practice, with each session several hours long, plus a lot of homework, Frazer said.
Then comes the National Mu Alpha Theta Championship in Dallas from July 18 to 21, and the chance for Buchholz to win its fifth straight national math title. No other high school has won more than three straight titles.