RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
The McKinley High School Tigers math team includes, front row from left, Dayna Kitsuwa, Jennifer Ishimoto, Michael Lieu; middle row, Cam Vi Chau, Min Hui Xiao, Andrew Nishi, Ramon Tran Tang; and back row, Mimi Hang and Ching-Yuan Hsieh. CLICK FOR LARGE
McKinley High ends Iolani's math reign
The underdogs are "stunned" to beat the 66-match champion
When Iolani's math team recently lost a match for the first time in almost 10 years, it was because members had become cocky and complacent, says coach Michael Park.
The Tigers of McKinley High School beat Iolani in the second meet of the Oahu Mathematics League season Oct. 28. Iolani last lost a match on Jan. 11, 1997, and had a 66-meet winning streak going, Park said.
McKinley co-captain Dayna Kitsuwa said, "Everyone was kind of shocked. I was really overjoyed. Everyone was really happy and started jumping around."
Park said that "working harder than anybody else" has always been the Iolani team's recipe for success, but some team members had lost their focus of late.
"We actually deserved to lose (earlier), but we got lucky and won (anyway). I can't say the whole team deserved to lose, but when you have three or four not working hard, it brings down the whole team," said Park, a math instructor who has coached the team for 19 years. "This is kinda good; hopefully they'll learn from this."
The McKinley Tigers math team coach Osa Tui said his team snatched their win due to "a strong class of 2007," and recruiting math whizzes from middle schools in its school district.
"We didn't do anything special. Our team captains demand that the others do their work.
"We just got lucky with the class of 2007," Tui said.
McKinley has "always been the top public school in math for the last several years," he added.
McKinley co-captain Michael Lieu said, "I thought we had a good chance of winning it, because we've always been close to Iolani ... but we were pretty stunned we actually beat them."
Lieu, whose other co-captain is Jennifer Ishimoto, said he thinks McKinley's chances of taming Iolani in the next five meets are pretty good.
Tui, who has several faculty assistant coaches, said the students are such exemplary mathematicians that it's hard for the staff to stay a step ahead of them.
"Sometimes (we) just fudge it. We learn as we go. Our kids will always come up with a new approach to a problem, and it blows you away as a teacher," Tui said.