Life is full of surprises.
And Briarcliff Middle School Teaching Assistant and Mathcounts Club Advisor Svetlana Ryzhik was in for a big surprise recently.
Back in 2020, the club won Second Place in the Regional Mathcounts Competition and although Ms. Ryzhik hoped for a medal, she knew the school was competing against high-performing schools such as Chappaqua, Ardsley, Irvington, and John Jay, who often make it to the National Competition.
The Regional Competition took place last Saturday at Ardsley Middle School and the drama began after scoring one of the rounds.
“The administrators usually post an answer key on the Smart Board and then we copy down the scores on a piece of paper to grade our own results,” Ms. Ryzhik said.
This time, Ms. Ryzhik said, the Mathcounts administrators wrote one of the answers wrong on the board.
“They wrote the wrong answer on one of the team rounds’ problem, but this was only 10 papers to re-check, so they graded them pretty quickly,” she said.
But then, Ms. Ryzhik noticed something big.
“I looked at the paper and saw that we were tied for third place with Seven Bridges, which is a Chappaqua school,” she said. “An administrator from the Mathcounts competition said that we would do a tiebreaker to see who gets in third place. The tiebreaker was going to be the number of students who solved the most problems in the last five problems of the Sprint Round. The tiebreaker placed our team third.”
Many coaches left the scoring room and returned to their teams, Ms. Ryzhik said.
“We were all waiting for a long time for the administrators to announce the results,” she said.
What Ms. Ryzhik did not know was that the administrators discovered that another answer was written wrong in the answer key.
“That is why it took them so long – they had to re-check over 100 papers. Now our third place was in jeopardy. I didn’t tell anyone that we tied for third place and that there was a mistake. I didn’t want to get the students’ hopes up,” she said.
At last, the administrators came back and made the announcement that Briarcliff won Third Place.
“All of a sudden, the parents started hugging me, the kids were going wild,” she said. “We went up to get the award and I was so shocked and emotional. I was sure we did not get Third Place, so I was very surprised.”
After all of the celebrations, the team is now back with a focus on studying as much as possible.
“We are now preparing for the National Competition, which will take place in Saratoga on March 2,” Ms. Ryzhik said. “We have a lot of work to do, it is a much tougher competition.”
In addition to the Third Place medal, Seventh grader Aaron Zheng participated in the Final Countdown Round and placed in the top 12 among more than 100 students.
“This is very impressive for a seventh grader,” Ms. Ryzhik said.
Ms. Ryzhik will never forget the emotional turn of events and is very proud of the students.
“We beat teams from much bigger, high-performing schools that usually do very well in this competition,” she said. “We overcame our rivals.”
The following students participated in the Regional Competition:
Main team: Eli Berzovsky, Erin Lin, Aarit Singh and Aaron Zheng.
Support team: Devna Chaundra, Olivia Lee and Dylan Star.