From FOCUS, newletter of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA)
August/September 1998, p. 2
Mathematical Breakthrough: Melanie Wood Becomes First Girl Ever to Win Spot on the United States Mathematical Olympiad Team
For the first time in history, a high school girl made the USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) team. Melanie Wood, a junior at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis, not only made the 1998 team, she tied for the first place slot with sophomore Sasha Schwartz (Radnor High School, Radnor, PA).
The other US team members (in alphabetical order) were Reid Barton, home schooled, Arlington, MA, grade 9 equivalent; Gabriel Carroll, Oakland Technical High School, Oakland, CA, grade 9; Kevin D. Lacker, Sycamore High School, Cincinnati, OH, grade 12; and Paul A. Valiant, Milton Academy, Milton, MA, grade 9. (The alternates were David T. Vickrey, Vermillion High School, Vermillion, SD, grade 12; and David E. Speyer, Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, CT, grade 12.)
In late July, the USAMO team traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, to compete in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).
A series of three challenging mathematical competitions was used to select the USAMO team. In March, more than 350,000 students participated in the American High School Mathematics Examination, the first of the competitions. Two exams and dozens of tough problems later, the six-member-team and two alternates emerged as the top mathematics students in the USA.
The examinations were administered by the American Mathematics Competitions, a program of the Mathematical Association of America.
Professor Gerald Alexanderson, President of the MAA, was delighted by the results. "The achievement of Wood and Sasha Schwartz comes at an important time, as we seek to improve the mathematical education of all students.
The eight winners of the USAMO are living proof that we have in our schools some of the very best mathematics students in the world. Melanie will be an inspiration to girls around the country. We believe that she is only the first of an increasing number of American girls achieving at the highest levels in mathematical competitions in the United States and internationally."
Professor Walter E. Mientka of the University of Nebraska has served as Executive Director of the American Mathematics Competitions for twenty-three years. He said, "Melanie Wood's achievement is a real breakthrough. I look forward to a much larger presence of girls on future USAMO teams."
Titu Andreescu has been Head Coach of the USA IMO team since 1995. In 1996 the USA IMO team under Coach Andreescu finished second in the International Mathematics Olympiad. "I, too," said Andreescu, "am excited by the breakthrough." The future "looks very bright for the performance of the USA team in the International Mathematical Olympiads of 1999, 2000, and 2001."