The fifth-seeded Wayne County High School mathletes knocked-off the top-rated teams in the sixth annual JC Bobcat Math League’s Super Bowl playoffs to claim the championship for the first time in the Bobcat Math League format. Front row, from left, Dakota Brewer, Mona Heng, Nick Cooksey and Megan Sickinger; standing, Byron Kogutkiewicz, Luke Bowles, K Nija Russell, Joshua Curry, Hayden Brewer, Allison Walters and coach Allison Clark.

The fifth-seeded Wayne County High School mathletes knocked-off the top-rated teams in the sixth annual JC Bobcat Math League’s Super Bowl playoffs to claim the championship for the first time in the Bobcat Math League format. Front row, from left, Dakota Brewer, Mona Heng, Nick Cooksey and Megan Sickinger; standing, Byron Kogutkiewicz, Luke Bowles, K Nija Russell, Joshua Curry, Hayden Brewer, Allison Walters and coach Allison Clark.

Since the inception of the Bobcat Math League, change has been a constant theme.

Rules have changed and teams have come and gone and this year is no different. The League has lost three teams — Collins, South Jones and Sylva Bay Academy due to coaches retiring or moving to other schools or there were not enough students to form a team. Remaining in the hunt to be the Bobcat Math League Champions are the current champion Wayne County and runner-up team Oak Grove. They are both in the Engineering League along with Quitman and Heidelberg high schools.

“This year, Oak Grove only has two returning members. Eighty-six percent of the team is underclassmen. This will definitely be a rebuilding year, but we are looking forward to the matches and competition,” said Oak Grove math coach Whitney Necessary.

Wayne Academy’s Jaguars just missed the championship playoffs last season and could be a threat to Technology Division members Columbia Academy, Perry Central and Sacred Heart, who have done well in the past but struggled some last season. Wayne Academy math coach Heidi Leggett said her team has the potential to be in the final playoffs this year with seven returning players and several seniors on the team.

Perennial contenders Northeast Jones has a rich history of success in the JC Bob- cat Math League. In 2016, the Tigers landed in fourth place and have tied for fifth place every subsequent year since 2013. However, for the first time since the league was formed in 2012, the Tigers missed the cutoff for the 2017 playoffs.

This season, the Tiger powerhouse has to overcome some new challenges while contending with the 2013 and 2014 Cham- pion Presbyterian Christian, Raleigh, West Jones (second place in 2016) and Laurel High School in the Science Division. Northeast Jones’ long tradition of being the division winner or earning a wildcard spot has put new math coach Casey Stroo in a difficult spot as he tries to quickly motivate a young team.

At the end of the six-week regular season and the final playoffs, the winning top two teams have the potential to split monetary prizes with their teammates. While winning money and trophies may be a motivating factor for some high school students to become the Jones College Bobcat Math League Champions, ultimately, league commissioner and JC math instructor Dr.Jessica Bunch said the League has a bigger purpose that benefits students and their communities.

Mathletes answer STEM-based questions like computational and visual math and history questions related to STEM fields. However, 55 percent of the questions will be math-related. Teams faced of for the first week of competition Monday, with the regular season ending Tuesday, Oct. 23. The final playoffs and Math “Super Bowl” will be Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Jones College.

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