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East Ridge's Lucy Yang to compete in national math competition

East Ridge High School senior Lucy Yang, of Cottage Grove, will compete in the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Competition, held on the Harvard University campus, Feb. 22. (Bulletin photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

East Ridge High School senior Lucy Yang will put her math skills to the test on a national stage Saturday, Feb. 22, when she competes in the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Competition.

The competition takes place on the Harvard University campus.

“I’m really excited, but I’m a little nervous because I’ve never been there,” she said. “But that makes it more exciting because I won’t know exactly what is going to happen.”

Students from across the country will compete in team rounds and individual rounds in a number of math areas including algebra, geometry and combinatorics, the mathematical study of combinations and arrangements.

“I really love geometry,” Yang said. “I  like working with special  dimensions and objects.”

Yang, of Cottage Grove, developed an interest in math early on because it came easy to her.

“I was, and still am, very lucky that I’m quick in processing or at least a good short-term memory,” she said. “I can solve problems pretty quickly.”

In seventh grade Yang decided to take math beyond the classroom and began competing on her school’s math team.

“I love that wonderful moment when you see something that makes sense and you solved a problem two different ways or something,” she said. “I enjoy the creativity and expression of math because with most problems, there’s more than one way to solve it – there really isn’t a best way.”

Yang continued to compete on the math team through high school, where she became one of the top scorers and gained an invitation to compete on the Minnesota All State Math Team the past two years.

Yang was invited to compete in the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament by her coach, along with other members of the All State Math Team.

“Lucy is outstanding at preparing for math meets and is a wonderful teammate,” said Rick Sullivan, East Ridge math teacher and math team coach. “She was one of the reasons why the East Ridge Math Team was invited to the state tournament last year.”

Yang said she hasn’t been doing any specific preparation for the upcoming competition, “but I think this whole math competition career has been a preparation.”

Yang graduates this year and this is her final opportunity to be a part of math competitions as a competitor. However, she said she would love to write math problems for the competition someday.

Even though Yang will face off against students from around the country for top prizes at the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Competition, that’s not why she’s going.

“I actually really don’t think about that too much,” she said. “I just do math because I love it.

“If I win, that would just be icing on the cake.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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