Benedictine Team Wins Kansas Collegiate Math Competition

Friday, April 23, 2021

Math Team 2021 - L to R: Dr. Nickolas Hein (Math Team Coach), and students Yi Kang, Nicolaas tenBroek and Hongji Wei.

A student mathematics team from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., has taken first place in the 15th Annual Kansas Collegiate Mathematics Competition. Although the school’s math teams usually perform well in the event, this is the first time the Benedictine team has taken the top prize. The students, Yi Kang, Nicolaas tenBroek and Hongji Wei, defeated teams from other Kansas institutions, large and small.  This year’s competition included teams from the University of Kansas, Pittsburg State University, Baker University and Fort Hays State University. All public and private undergraduate colleges and universities in the state are eligible to send up to two teams.

“I'm thrilled for the team!  They worked hard academically to get here, but to win a competition like this against others who are also very academically strong and engaged, it takes focus and teamwork,” said Dr. Nickolas Hein, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science and the team’s coach. “It's really very impressive. They were up against top students from top math programs in the state.”

The students said the competition was very challenging, but fun.

“We had a blast solving problems and collaborating with each other. It was also a little bit scary. As a freshman, I did not know if I would be much help, but I decided to do it anyway!” said tenBroek. “When I heard we won, it came from Dr. Hein after Mass. I was so shocked that my jaw dropped, and I just did not think it was true!”

Hein noted how well the Benedictine students functioned as a team and how they interacted to quickly solve complex problems.

“I am impressed by how well they work together, and it is a clear advantage that they know each other so well and already have a shorthand for discussing serious math problems,” Hein said. “While the credit goes to the team, I say this is also a victory for our entire Benedictine College community as their togetherness, which embodies our mission, gave the team an extra boost to rise above the competition for a first-place finish.”

The students worked together to complete 10 problems in about 3 hours. Each problem is worth 10 points. For full credit on a problem, the answer had to be correct and all supporting work had to be shown. The competition is part of the yearly meeting of the Kansas section of the Mathematical Association of America.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named in the Top 10 in the Midwest of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.