Sunday, March 16, 2014

Alex At The 2014 Mathcounts State Finals



Theme from The Last of the Mohicans



Alex got up near 7 AM and had a normal breakfast of 
fish (today was Salmon), rice, and some fruit
(a healthful Japanese breakfast).

We arrived at the competition site near 8 AM.

Alex was relaxed and confident.

His mother had prepared him well for this...
his epic final battle (this is his last year for Mathcounts).

Alex practiced Mathcounts on a daily basis...
 with supplementary work on Alcumus from the Art of Problem Solving...
along with other math related programs.

Although, neither my wife, nor I, can keep up with Alex's math progression...
at the conclusion of Alex's daily math study session...
his mother would correct his problems (using an answer and explanation sheet)
and have him do some similar problems for the ones he had missed.

She bought books with answers in them along with explanations...
looked up answers on YouTube or Google to similar problems for explanations...
or kept the problem sheets for the next tutor session so he could explain them to him
(His tutor had worked wonders shoring up Alex's weak areas in the short time we had him).

Alex had honed his skills under his mother's supervision
(she supervises his math studies...I supervise all of his other subjects)...
and his skills have steadily improved.

He was ready to enter the arena.

Our last message to him before entering the competition site was simple...
he had prepared himself well...
his training will see him through.

(Although, I must admit I was nervous during the competition.
It was not that I had no confidence in Alex's skills...
it was just that I knew of the quality of his competitors' skills).

His competitors were a particularly fierce group of Intellectual Warriors
whom Alex would face off with in mathematical battle.

Once again...
only the top four in the State would be part of the State team 
going to the Nationals in Florida in a couple of months.

Although the State finals had a total of 44 competitors...
Alex was faced with at least 12 competitors who were so closely matched in skills to him
that it would be a battle of epic proportions.

Any of the 12 or so competitors could have taken any one of the top four positions.

Alex's main threats in Northern Nevada came from all of the students 
from the Davidson Academy...and from the 1st place winner in the 
previous competition (Chapter Competition...to determine the 
competitors for the State finals.  In that competition...
Alex had taken second).  

Alex's main threats from Southern Nevada (Las Vegas)...
came from the always excellent students from Hyde Park
(the number one school team this year).

At least 5 or so from there were top contenders.

As Alex went in to the competition room with all of the others...
and as he came out after each segment with the others...
I was queasy almost the whole time.

As this was Alex's last year for Mathcounts...
I wanted him to go out with a high enough standing
 to make the State team and to experience the Nationals.



We had just arrived at the competition site.
Alex was excited and ready to go.

(I just noticied I had incorrectly set the year to 13 instead of 14 on the camera...
sorry, I had just gotten it a few days ago)

Alex on break after the testing.
His Mathcount teacher is standing next to him.
No one knew the placement of the teams or the individuals at this point.


Alex with some of his team members.


The Coral Academy of Science (Reno) team.


At lunch break...
we went for a walk outside to de-stress.
Not for Alex...but for me  :)






After lunch...
all of the contestants...
 the coaches, and the parents, were invited to the competition room...
where the fun round would take place.

The top eight individuals would face off in a single elimination tournament
(it doesn't affect the State placement standings).





Alex was called to the fun round top eight table
(top eight for Northern Nevada...
we still hadn't known the team or individual standings).

It was Alex from Coral Academy of Science...
one participant from another school...
the 1st place winner of the Chapter competition
(to whom Alex had taken second place)...
and all the rest were from the Davidson Academy.

Alex worked his way up the elimination rounds to finally square off
with the 1st place winner from the Chapter competition in the final round.

It was yet another extended epic battle...
similar to last year's.

In the end...
Alex was eliminated...
to take second, yet again, to this mathematical phenom.


However...
again, this was just a fun exhibition round for the parents.
It had no bearing on the actual placement of the individual for the State Team.

Afterwards...
they read off the State school team winners

(there are two simultaneous Mathcounts competitions in the State of Nevada...
one for the Northern portion (Reno)...
and one for the Southern Portion (Las Vegas)...
the results are then tallied and transmitted between Las Vegas and Reno).


1st place went to Hyde Park from Las Vegas.
2nd place went to the Davidson Academy from Reno.
3rd place went to Coral Academy of Science from Las Vegas.

They then read off the individual top four in the State...
the ones who will make up the State Team...
the ones who will go to the Nationals in Florida...
the ones we so desperately wanted Alex to be part of.

They started off by naming the student who won 4th place in the State...
and so...
a spot on the State team.


He was from Hyde Park.

One down...
but we knew of the brilliance of those students from Hyde Park.


Number three in the State...
a student from Hyde Park.

Another spot down...
I was getting nervous.


Number two in the State went to a student...
from Hyde Park.


Ok...
the anxiety was building.
Would first place be another student from Hyde Park?

What about the 1st place winner from the Chapter competition...
the almost mystical mathematical wizard who came from out of the blue?



Then the announcer paused...
looked down at the sheet...
paused again...
and said...
"I cannot pronounce this name............".


He conferred with another staff member for a second
while pointing to the paper with his finger.

It was at this point that my stomach hit bottom.

Alex's name is easy to pronounce....
Oh...No!


I had felt a gnawing and deepening sadness deep in the pit of my stomach.


I had wanted this so much for Alex.

He is a gentle and loving human being...
a hard, hard working young man...
one whom has devoted countless hours
in the honing of his skills in all areas.

I then had seen Alex visibly slump in his chair.
He must have felt crestfallen.

I was so sad for him...
so very sad.




It was then that I thought I had seen something strange.
Did I just see the announcer look up with a devilish smile on his face?!


With a big toothy smile...
he then said...
Alex's name!

Alex had not only made the State team going to the Nationals in Florida....
Alex had taken first place in the State!

Alex was the State Mathcounts Champion!


(once again, I had incorrectly set the year on my new camera in all of these photos)

Alex walking hurriedly to the staff to collect his State First Place trophy.


(the date should be 15 MAR 2014 - I had incorrectly set the date on a new camera)

Alex was positively elated.

What a proud moment for my son.

I was so happy for him.

He has been working hard to improve himself in Mathcounts...
and all of his other competitions and classes
on a daily basis since his first competition two years ago.

In sixth grade...
Alex was 7th in Northern Nevada in Mathcounts.

In seventh grade...
Alex was 2nd in Northern Nevada...
and 6th in the State.

In this...
 his last year of Mathcounts competition...
well...
he had finally achieved his dream!

Throughout all of this...
Alex has maintained a 4.0 average in school...
he has been to the County Spelling Bee twice...
the first time getting 3rd place.

On his first try in the Patriot's Pen national essay contest...
Alex took first place in the local, first place in the Chapter...
and second in the State.

In the last Patriot's Pen contest...
Alex took first place in the local competition.

In 6th grade...
Alex took an official SAT college entrance exam
for entrance into the SET program from Johns Hopkins University.

Alex scored a 1760 to recieve entrance into SET...
in 6th grade.

In seventh grade...
Alex took another official SAT...
this time he scored 2100.

Alex is also competing in the Western Regional Science Fair in a couple of weeks...
with his latest Science Fair project.

Sorry...
I could go on...
a Father's love and pride knows no bounds!


Alex with his Coral Academy of Science Mathcounts coach.


Alex with the founder and chief instructor of the Northern Nevada Math Club.

They practice on Sundays for the ARML competitions
(a math competition for High School Students)...
as well as for other math competitions.

Her daughter was also competing in the State Finals Mathcounts competition.



Alex will be going out in style...
as a Champion.

In the Nationals...
Alex will be faced with some of the brightest 224 young mathematicians in the nation
(including the US territories).

He will prepare as he always has.

It shall be a magical moment in his life...
just as this has been.

After the competition...
we drove to Alex's favorite Sushi restaurant for a victory meal.


(my camera was in the wrong setting...
Alex's hair is much darker than as appears here)


A tempura Banana and Ice Cream dessert for Alex.


Alex's trophy for First Place Individual for the 2014 Mathcounts State Competition.

After we rested for a few hours at home...
Alex had the rest of the night off.

We asked where he would like to go.

He said he wanted to go bowling.

We took him Blacklight Bowling.




Alex bowled a couple of games...
and during one of his games as he sat next to me...
he turned to me and said that this has been one of the best years of his life.

I said that with his continued work ethic...
he will continue to have the best years of his life...
for the rest of his life...
year after year.

Life will continue to get richer...
every year will bring new adventures and great satisfaction...
and daily training is the path to achieving this.


After Alex's fun at the bowling alley...
we went out to eat dinner at another one of Alex's favorite restaurants...
Naan and Kabab.


Alex loved the Naan...


and his Salmon Kabab.


I had the Kabab Koobedeh.


Alex had another dessert.

Although we usually only let him have dessert once a week or so...
on this day...
he had earned a dessert at each meal!

------------------------------

Alex's various math teachers at Coral Academy of Science
worked with Alex and helped guide him.

His various math clubs at school...
and his Sunday practice sessions with the Northern Nevada Math Club...
as well as his Saturday night practice sessions on line with
some very bright Davidson Academy students, all helped him tremendously
(as selflessly led by last year's Northern Nevada's 1st place winner...
 the third place winner in the state...
and whom had won his place on the State team for the Nationals.
Last year was his last year for Mathcounts).

Much of the credit goes to Alex's mother for her tireless efforts 
in guiding him in his math studies at home.

However...
most of the credit goes to Alex himself.

His self drive to constantly improve himself in all ways...
is the chief reason for his success.


In the car ride which followed the competition...
on our way to eat lunch...
I told Alex to always remember his victory.

It was the direct result of his daily study habits.

The same formula for success he had used 
to become a State Champion...
is also the same one he shall use to become a success in life.


As for me...
what can I say.

To see the most important person in the world to me achieve one of his dreams...
after two years of unrelenting effort...of never giving in...of never giving up...
to feel the great pride in watching my son grow as a man before my eyes...
to be able to see the great, deep, and deserved pride in my son's face...
of a deep satisfaction in himself as reflected in his eyes...
to know that he has gained a great inner wisdom...
the wisdom of a warrior who has succeeded in battle
after years of relentless training...
well...
as I have said before...
a Father's love and pride knows no bounds!


--------------------



To Alex...
my son...
I love you more than anyone or anything.

To constantly run towards life
by constantly seeking out new adventures and challenges...
and constantly learning and growing from them...
 by never forgetting the great beauty of everything all around us...
and by never forgetting the great peace in solitude and simplicity...
these are what give us so much deep meaning in life.

The great depth of love and pride I feel for you...
you will only realize when you have children of your own.



You have overcome the deficits of Autism...
and turned them into strengths...
and you continue to grow...
day by day.

You have always had the heart of a Tiger.
You have always been a champion.


This day is your's...
to cherish and remember as a defining point in life...
of proof of daily training and the results to be had from it.

It will be the story you will one day tell your children...
of the first of many great successes you will have achieved...
and the path you have chosen to walk towards your dreams...

The path of a warrior.










11 comments:

  1. I don't believe Northern Nevada's ever taken the 1st place trophy before. Every year Northern Nevada has its champions but you can bet Hyde Park was guffawing at a surprise Coral student snatching 1st place from under them.

    I have never seen someone with anywhere near as much pure drive as Alex, and to see that honed into mathematics, well, let's just say I consider any math team with Alex on it lucky. To Alex: being the champion is euphoric; enjoy being the top of the middle schoolers while it lasts, on your way to being at the top of life. And on behalf of the Davidson Academy math team, a huge congratulations, you'll always be one of us (if only because we don't want to consider you competition), and good luck at Nats.

    Glad to consider you my teammate at ARML and BMT.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much Dylan. Your leadership in the Saturday night online conference math sessions had really helped Alex. He really likes all of you from the Davidson Academy. Everyone there has really been friendly and supportive towards him.

    As always, Alex is going to try his best at the Nationals.
    Thank you again. We will see you again soon.

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  3. Thank you Chris. Epic it was! It was both nerve racking and tremendously exciting.
    Alex's school is setting up a television interview and sending out press releases. Alex deserves the attention. What he had done, considering the strength of his competition, was truly phenomenal.

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  4. OH MY!!!! Awesome achievement!

    I did not peek ahead so it was very suspenseful reading this. Congratulations, Alex!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I wanted to give the readers just a taste of the suspense I was in. I was on the edge of my seat and my body felt as if I were on a roller coaster...along with the slight nausea :)

    Alex is so proud...as well as I am of him. I am so happy for him. He is currently preparing for this Saturday's math competition in California (an unrelated High School math competition).

    We also must prepare his Science Project presentation for next week's Western Regional Science fair. Alex is busy...but he is happiest when he is :)

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  6. As one of the students who had been trying to get to Nats, I have to say that I am so happy for Alex, and the joy on his face when they called his name made all of us so happy. Congratulations, Alex! I am always astounded by your mathematical abilities, and am glad that you have gotten this opportunity. Have a great trip!

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  7. Thank you Sarah. The students from the Davidson Academy have always been supportive of Alex. He has always liked everyone from the Davidson Academy. Besides being very intelligent and mature, everyone there is very friendly.

    Alex is very happy, and he will continue his preparations for the Nationals with equal fervor as had he with the State Finals.

    Thank you again.

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  8. Achan!! We are all so proud of your achievement! I was crying as I read this post, especially the part about how you slumped silently in your seat. As I read on, they became tears of joy and exhaultation. You are an inspiration to us all. I believe that the milestones achieved in life are ways to take in praise and appreciate all of your hard work. Truly, when you can enjoy learning and growing your life will always be an exploration of what is possible. Your parents have generously shared your life story so that others can be inspired by you. I certainly am. You make me want to be a better version of myself, to strive and enjoy the journey. We love you Alex!! Your cheerleader and fan.... Auntie Linda

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  9. Thank you Linda. We are still walking in the clouds over his win. He will be going to Florida in May for 4 days. We are going with him, of course. We will be staying at Disney World. After the competition, the organizers have scheduled (for all of the competitors) a day and a half of fun in Disney World. Alex is going to have a great time there. I will be taking lots of pictures.

    ReplyDelete

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