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Math whizzes match wits in University of North Georgia tournament
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University of North Georgia Gainesville campus students Laurie Bynum, left, Mike Conners, center and Hasan Ahmed work on a problem Saturday during the UNG Mathematics Tournament in Oakwood.

Not all competition has to be related to sports or athletics, as many college students found on Saturday at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus.

The University of North Georgia was host to the 19th annual Mathematics Tournament, formerly known as the Gainesville State College Mathematics tournament. This is the first mathematics tournament under the new UNG since North Georgia College and State University and Gainesville State College were consolidated earlier this year.

The tournament included 149 students from different colleges around the Southeast, such as Holmes Community College of Goodman, Miss., Gaston College of Dallas, N.C., and Shelton State Community College of Tuscaloosa, Ala., among others.

“A lot of the colleges have been back 15 times in a row,” said Delbert Greear, coordinator of the tournament and professor of math at UNG. “If they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t come back. ... We get pretty good ratings.”

Greear said Shelton State was the first college from Alabama to compete in the tournament’s 19-year history. Questions varied from calculus, trigonometry, geometry, statistics and algebra.

“It’s a real pleasure to have students come who really enjoy (math),” said John Cruthirds, head of the mathematics department at UNG. “I know the faculty put in a lot of work, and this is an really enjoyable day for them.”

Cruthirds also said having teams that traveled from as far as Mississippi shows that word has spread about the competition.

The tournament featured two parts, individual and group. The overwhelming consensus from students on Saturday was the group competition was the more entertaining, but was still hard at the same time.

“We hope for the best every time,” said sophomore Josh Slycord of Gaston College. “When you get here, you hope you’re right. The morning test is the for the super, hard-core math (person). The morning part is a personal challenge. The afternoon is the fun part. ... There’s a mild disappointment if you don’t do as well as you’d like.”

Every answer revealed came with cheers, gasps or groans.

“I guess it’s rough, especially the first time doing a competition like this,” said freshman Collin McClendon, a student at the UNG Oconee campus.

McClendon said he was encouraged by his parents and calculus professor to enter the competition with the UNG team. Others said they were encouraged by being given extra credit for their math classes, but found themselves enjoying the competition.

“It’s fun, a lot of fun. I’d probably do it again,” said Mitchell Herndon, a student from the UNG Gainesville campus.

One of Herndon’s group partners, Sam Gaultney, another UNG Gainesville campus student, said the competition was, “hard, but a lot different than I thought it would be.”

For the out-of-town students, all wanted to do their best, but some were just happy to be competing. Such was the case with Shelton State’s first-year math club in its first-ever team competition.

“We just want everyone (on the team) to do their best. We want to win,” said junior Ashley Sutton of Shelton State.

Sutton and her teammates said they wouldn’t have been at the competition Saturday if not for their professors, in particular Renea Randle.

Randle couldn’t have been happier for her students to be able to compete against others schools for the first time.

“It has been the most fun helping the students get to this competition,” she said. “It’s math for the fun. ... They get to see the best of the best.”

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