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Competing against students in grades six through eight from six different schools, Barranca Mesa Elementary sixth-graders placed second in the recent Northern New Mexico MathCounts competition held at Pablo Roybal Elementary School in Pojoaque Feb. 9.MathCounts is a national math enrichment and competition program designed to encourage excellence in the study of mathematics and is targeted at middle school students in grades six through eight. MathCounts is one of the most successful education partnerships involving volunteers, educators, industry sponsors and students.Schools select students to compete individually or as part of a team in one of more than 500 written and oral competitions held nationwide. Top students advance to the state, and ultimately, to the national level. MathCounts challenges students’ math skills, develops their self-confidence and rewards them for their achievements.The Barranca Mesa team included Eric Begnaud, Hannah Cunningham, Ben Liu, Amanda Mercer, Jing Xie, Anna Zerkle and Mengzhe Zhao. Students participated in an individual 30-question written portion in the Sprint Round. There was also a Target Round where students were given four pairs of problems with six minutes per pair to solve them. Begnaud and Zhao placed in the top 16 participants and competed in the final event of the day: the Countdown Round, a head-to-head verbal competition, in which Zhao placed second.Competing in the Team Round, Cunningham, Begnaud, Mercer and Zhao placed second. It qualifies Barranca students to advance to the state competition, which will be held in Albuquerque March 15. The competition was followed by an awards ceremony. The Los Alamos Middle School placed first.Barranca Mesa head coach and sixth grade teacher, Lana Martin, established the MathCounts program in 2006. The 2006/2007 team also placed second and went to the state championships in Albuquerque.Martin and assistant coaches Maureen Dombrowski and Jane Clements provided weekly training sessions for 15 “Mathletes” who worked on mathematical concepts and problem-solving techniques.