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Carolina Panthers

"Mathletes" compete in Numbers Crunch


CHARLOTTE - Injuries forced the Panthers to use 13 different starting lineups last season.

According to one of the questions featured in the ninth annual Numbers Crunch math competition Wednesday at Bank of America Stadium, the Panthers actually only scratched the surface when it came to trying different combinations.

Assuming the Panthers had seven defensive linemen, five linebackers and six defensive backs for their 4-3 alignment, along with one player that could play either linebacker or defensive back, competing students were asked to calculate how many different possible starting lineups were at the Panthers' disposal.

The answer? 17,500.

The five-person team from Charlotte Providence Day got that question as well as five of the other six correct to defeat seven other teams and win the competition for the second consecutive year. Like Providence Day, A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, S.C., answered the first six questions correctly but had to settle for second place after Providence Day earned more partial credit on the final question of the competition.

"We've always had a lot of good kids in our program, and we have a really strong senior class this year," said James Reeder, a math teacher at Providence Day who coached the winning team along with student Chris Munley. "I think it's wonderful that the local pro team takes an interest in something like this. Math doesn't usually get the credit it deserves, so it's wonderful to see it lifted onto a stage like this."

The Providence Day team of John Cambern, Tate Krasner, Michael Lucia, Jack Munley and Alex Sherman was presented with a $500 donation for its school's math programs. The team also received a trophy football named in honor of former Numbers Crunch organizer Dr. Robert Whitten, a longtime Davidson College math professor died last November.

From Chris Gamble's coordinates if he hopes to minimize his total distance between four receivers to the distance an Olindo Mare kick would travel if it reached a height of 10 yards after being angled 30 degrees above the horizontal on the tee, Wednesday's questions weren't exactly as easy as calculating yards per carry.

With teams allowed to work on each question for eight minutes, they collectively came up with the right answer 23 of 56 times (or 41 percent for the math-challenged among us).

"I can do all the problems; I just wouldn't want to have to do it in the time constraints they have," said Davidson professor Dr. Irl Bevins, who judged Wednesday's event along with UNC Charlotte professor Dr. Harold Reiter and fellow Davidson professor Dr. Carl Yerger. "This event is great. It's fun to see high school students that are actually interested in math as opposed to complaining about it."

Myers Park of Charlotte finished third. Three other Charlotte schools – Butler, Cato Middle College and Providence – also competed, along with East Chapel Hill (N.C.) High School and Fort Mill (S.C.) High School.


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