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Adding up to another title

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Competing for the first time individually instead of on a team, Ross Werth admitted he was a little nervous heading into Thursday's 34th Math Relays at Fort Hays State University.

And there was a little added pressure on the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School senior.

As a leader in the school, the student body president wanted so badly to do well for his former teacher, Gene Zimmer, who retired just before the start of the fall semester because of health reasons.

Under Zimmer, the Monarchs had won 11 Math Relays titles in as many tries.

Werth and the rest of his teammates gave Zimmer and their current teacher and Math Relays coach, Josh Peterson, a day to remember.

With Zimmer hanging out in the FHSU Memorial Union, the Monarchs cruised to another team title in the Class 2-3A division by a whopping margin, outscoring runner-up Pratt-Skyline by 47 points, 117 to 70.

Leading TMP individually was Werth, who finished in the top six of all but one of the six individual events in which he competed, placing second in two of those.

"(Zimmer) showed up to support us, and that meant a lot," said Werth, who was part of a team that placed in the top six of four events last year. "We all love Mr. Zimmer. He's a really big part of the TMP math department."

In what has become almost tradition, TMP's total was the most points scored the entire day among the 48 schools competing in three different divisions.

Hutchinson won the Class 4-6A division with 98.50 points, followed by Salina Central with 88.5 points, while Beloit-St. John's Catholic High School was the 1A team champion with 58.50 points, outdistancing second-place Ashland by 23 points.

Peterson, in his third year of teaching math at TMP, said he also was a "little nervous" because "Mr. Z has had such an awesome run."

Together, Peterson and Zimmer put together winning teams in the 11th- and 12th-grade classes that helped score a lot of points.

The 12th-grade team of Allison Pfeifer, Link Chen and Yilin Song won three divisions and placed third in another, while the junior trio of Ryan Hammerschmidt, Mason Choitz and Justin Raynesford finished in the top six of three events, including a first-place effort in trigonometry.

Other individual leaders for TMP were junior Jacob Brull, senior Jin Lim and sophomore Grace Volker.

Brull, like Werth, placed in the top six of five events. Brull won one individual event, as did Lim and Volker. Lim also finished in the top six of another individual event, as did classmate Vy Phan.

* Hays High School placed fourth in the 4-6A division with 40 points.

HHS had two championship teams -- the freshman threesome of Gage Phillips, Scott Ring and Nikki Vuong, and the sophomore trio of Logan Renz, Sarah Rooney and Sydney Vahling. Individually, Phillips also placed second individually in calculations with calculators.

Two 12th-grade teams also placed in the top six for Hays High. Shea Briggs joined classmates Katelyn Schumacher and Kellen Griffin for a runner-up finish in calculations with calculators, while Schumacher was part of the fourth-place trigonometry team along with Courtney Hess and Shelby Dinkel.

* Area schools also had several top-six finishers.

Individually, Russell sophomore Shiv Gutka won three events and finished second in another, freshman Cody Land from Almena-Northern Valley won two events, and Goodland junior Jarod Lake won one.

Ness City and Oberlin each had two team champs, while Goodland and Russell each had one.

Complete results can be found at www.fhsu.edu and search for Math Relays.