La Cañada students participate in 27th Annual High School Mathematics Competition

La Cañada High School sophomore William Fu, left, sophomore Colin Um and freshmen Albert Zhai and Daniel Oh work out a problem at the 27th Annual High School Mathematics Competition on Saturday, Feb. 8 at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. The LCHS team dominated the Math Bowl, a team event, for an overall win. (Courtesy of Westmont College / February 8, 2014)

Things just added up perfectly earlier this month when four members of La Cañada High School's Math Team competed and won the top spot at the 27th annual High School Mathematics Competition at Santa Barbara's Westmont College.

The Feb. 8 event was designed to test teens' math chops in a wide range of competitions, from a Chalk Talk Derby on the subject of cubics to a written examination. The LCHS team — comprising sophomores William Fu and Colin Um and freshmen Albert Zhai and Daniel Oh — was all geared up to go when they hit a bit of a stumbling block.

It looked like the team's adviser, math teacher Cindy Calm, wasn't able to make the event due to a scheduling conflict. That's when LCHS senior and team co-captain David Oh sprang into action.

He contacted Westmont math professor and event organizer Russell Howell, asking if a teacherless team could still compete. When he got the green light, Oh made all the necessary arrangements and ensured the four team members made it safely to the Santa Barbara campus.

Thanks to the co-captain's diligence, the team won with a combined score of 78, clinching a victory in the contest's grades 9-10 division. They swept up in the Math Bowl portion of the event, a team-to-team combat session complete with buzzers. San Marcos High School won the 11-12 division.

"I believe it had more to do with the natural talent of the members rather than my own ability to lead and instruct them," Oh said of the team's win. "They are all qualified and brilliant students who deserved to win the competition — I was delighted that we ended up winning."

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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