Bobcat Math League kicks off sixth season

West Jones High School mathletes team last year, split $600 and their school will receive $600 for their second-place accomplishments, taking full advantage of earning a “wild card” invitation in the JCJC Bobcat Math League’s Super Bowl playoff competition. Front row, from left, Jess Cooley, Jack Taylor, Logan Parker and Nick Sumrall. Back row, Coach Courtney Hagan, Matt Boykin, Brandon Waldrup, Eva Kiparizoska, Karson Wardell, Lindsey Hughes and Candace Nolan.

By Teresa McCreery

Jones County Junior College

Switching from mostly math questions to integrating STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics — questions into the high school competition known as Jones County Junior College’s Bobcat Math League proved to be challenging for many teams. As the league enters its sixth season with the second year utilizing the new STEM format, the league welcomes one team and bids farewell to another.

“Although this year’s competition has the same number of teams as last year (16), Richton will not be participating but Heidelberg High School will be joining the BML. We are looking forward to Heidelberg’s return after taking a year off from the league. We also hope Richton will re-join the league next year,” said Bobcat Math League Commissioner Dr. Jessica Bunch.

Most of the 16 teams participating in this year’s competition — Collins Tigers, Columbia Academy Cougars, Heidelberg High Oilers, Laurel High Tornadoes, Northeast Jones Tigers, Oak Grove Warriors (2016 champions), Perry Central Bulldogs, Presbyterian Christian Bobcats, Quitman Panthers, Raleigh Lions, Sacred Heart Crusaders,  South Jones Braves,  Sylva-Bay Saints, Wayne Academy Jaguars, Wayne County War Eagles and West Jones-Mustangs (second place in 2016) — will all be on a fairly level playing field since graduation has taken a toll on the teams. The top teams in the 2016 playoffs, Oak Grove and West Jones, are both rebuilding this year.

“We lost four of our strong senior leaders, but we have some really strong, young students to fill those positions.  We are hoping to have a solid showing and be a competitive team this year,” said Richard Kline, Oak Grove High School Bobcat Math League coach.

Courtney Hagan, West Jones High School’s Bobcat Math League coach, added, “This competition has gotten much harder since it no longer consists of just math. It is hard to prepare for some of the complicated questions, so we’re going to try our best! We had a player last year that knew a lot of random facts, however, he graduated, so we are hoping to do well.”

Mathletes will have questions with definitions, multiple choice, computational and visual math, as well as history questions related to STEM fields. Commissioner Bunch explained the league needed to expand the scope of the competition to give students a broader range of experience and knowledge. However, 55 percent of the questions will be math-related.

“The regular-season matches will continue to be partly written test and partly quiz-bowl type competition for students. Participants will take tests with paper and pencil for the first half of the regular season. The second half will prepare students for the final playoffs with the addition of the buzzer system and a moderator asking questions,” explained Bunch.

The six-week regular season began Monday, and will end Tuesday, Oct. 24, with the final playoffs and Math “Super Bowl”  on Wednesday, Nov. 8. All 16 teams will be invited to attend the postseason when the top players will be recognized from each team. Also, the All-League Team and Most Outstanding Player will be recognized at the final competition.  The six playoff teams will be determined by regular season results.

One new component added to the weekly competition will likely increase the fan base of the Bobcat Math League. As part of the technology component of the competition, students on the home teams will be doing live reports on Facebook. Commissioner Bunch adds “reporting” using social media will likely increase support in the way of donations from the private sector and community groups, which have enabled the BML to be very visible. Fans can find scores in real time, at the JCJC Bobcat Math League’s Facebook page: JCJC Bobcat Math League.

Results will be posted on the JCJC Bobcat Math League web page under “Division Standings/Schedules at: www.jcjc.edu/bobcatmathleague/ and on the Bobcat Math League Facebook page: Bobcat Math League – Facebook. For more information about the Bobcat Math League, contact Dr. Jessica Bunch (JCJC Bobcat Math League Commissioner) at 601-477-5422 or jessica.bunch@jcjc.edu.

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