Page ‘mathletes’ excel on track, in coach’s calculus class

Page ‘mathletes’ excel on track, in coach’s calculus class

By HENRY NICHOLS / Franklin Home Page

When it comes to numbers, the Page girls track and field team is second to none. The Patriots have set 10 new school records this season, and the seniors all study calculus under Coach Peter Wade in the state’s No. 1 rated program.

When it comes to numbers, the Page High School girls track and field team is second to none.

According to Coach Pete Wade, his girls side has broken the most records of any team regardless of sport in school history with 10 new single-season standards set during the 2013 campaign. Wade has also coached girls basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer, and ice hockey in his 20-year career.

Page High School’s juniors and seniors on the girls track team are all in the No. 1-ranked calculus program in the state or in pre-cal.

“They are the most talented girls team I’ve coached at Page,” Wade said, “rewriting our high school’s track records over the month of April.”

As if the girls’ on-field accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, Wade noted an equally rare trend off the field: for the first time in his two decades as Page’s AP Calculus instructor, every upperclassman on his current team is also studying calculus under him.

“I have never witnessed this on any sports team,” Wade said.

Wade’s calculus program is an outlier in excellence by itself. According to a study published by the University of Tennessee in 2012, Page was ranked the No. 1 AP Calculus program in the state among non-magnet public schools. Within the past fortnight, U.S. News & World Report rated Page ahead of Brentwood and Ravenwood as the state’s No. 1 school zone in mathematics.

“You know, people never believe that when we tell them that,” Wade said. “I mean, we’re just out here in the country, this little, tiny school, and we’re amazing at math.”


Lady Patriots school records
set this season

300 hurdles, (broke record twice) 48.53, Madison Stremler, May 9

4×800 relay, 11:26.49, Mary Smith, Maggie Smith, Holly Huneycutt, Jordan Shaw, May 9

4×400 relay, 4:31.25, My.Smith, Mg. Smith, Stremler, Brierra Palombo, May 9

Sprint medley (800), 2:00.45, Palombo, Cat Taylor, Madison Stremler, Beka Fox, April 20

Distance medley (4000), 15:06.14, Stremler, Mg. Smith, My. Smith, Huneycutt, April 20

Sprint medley (1600), 5:36.5, Palombo, Taylor, Heidi Fahmy, Ashton Peck, April 18

Distance medley (2800), 10:11.0, Stremler, Mg. Smith, My. Smith, Valerie Westover, April 18

400 run, 1:04.23, Stremler, April 6

4×1600 relay, 27:27.0, My. Smith, Mg. Smith, Westover, Huneycutt, March 21

The Lady Patriots notched their most recent records on the track Thursday at the A-AA Middle Tennessee subsectional.

Junior Madison Stremler broke her own 300-meter hurdles best (48.53 seconds, 0.53 ticks shy of elite status), senior twins Maggie and Mary Smith helped the 4×800 relay team break a 3-year-old record (11:26.49), and all three helped the 4×400 relay break another 3-year-old record (4:31.25).

Eight of these records have been set in the last three weeks of A/AA competition. Stremler has been involved in setting seven of the records while the Smiths have helped set five apiece.

“There’s really great chemistry (on our squad),” Wade said. “I mean, just between me and my track athletes, but knowing (them) all these years, it’s pretty strong.”

In addition to four years spent competing under Wade together, the Smith twins and Stremler used to play soccer together at Page.

“The track team’s like a big family,” Maggie Smith said. “When we know we need to push it, we’ll push it, and our team always supports us when we’re running.  We’re always cheering.”

Mary Smith added, “Definitely, Page High is a family school.”

“We’re stuck with you all day!” Stremler joked with Wade. “It kind of helps too, I think, having the track coach also be your math teacher because you can just ask him about stuff all the time.”


The seniors from girls track are all enrolled in Wade’s AP Calculus AB and/or AP Calculus BC classes. The junior girls are all enrolled in his Honors Pre-Calculus course and, having completed their prerequisites two months ago, are solely studying calculus now.

Additionally, six of the seven members of the boys track and field team are also currently enrolled in calculus classes.

“For one thing, he’s a great teacher,” Mary Smith said. “I came into calculus thinking that I wouldn’t know anything, but he taught us so well and I trust everything he says.

“It’s just (that) his teaching skills (translates) into coaching.”

According to Wade, a relatively large plurality of Page students study calculus at some point in their high school curriculum.

“It’s about 25 percent at Page, which is like way beyond any other school in the state,” Wade said. “You’ve got to be very intelligent to be able to handle a class like that.

“Even in our Honors Pre-Cal (class) here, it’s probably like 50 percent calculus.”

While Wade thinks it’s a stretch to point to any direct correlation between math success and track and field prowess, he does think his team’s collectively scholastic aptitude and their overall coach-player chemistry helps them be the best “mathletes” he needs come meet time.

“Since these girls are really smart, they’re easy to coach, “Wade said. “So I can tell them, ‘This is the team you’re chasing down,’ and just tell them one time, and they know (what to do).

“Or, ‘This is how to pace yourself,’ or, ‘This is where the hand-off’s gonna come,’ and they know exactly what part of the track to be on.”

While the Smith twins both plan to attend Tennessee as non-athletes next year, Wade believes Stremler has what it takes to attain a premium athletic scholarship with a diligent senior year, especially if she can improve her personal time in her best event: the 300.

“Madison’s goal, at least my goal for her at this point, is if she can get 46 seconds (flat) by her senior year,” Wade said, “she would definitely be a Division I NCAA recruit at that point, and she’s even good enough to be Division II already.

“So that’s definitely a big goal for us next year and (for her) to even keep breaking her own school record.”

Stremler’s next-best event is the 400, where she set a school record with a 1:04.23 time on April 6, 4.23 seconds off elite status. She qualified for the state tournament in hurdles last year as a sophomore and is expected to repeat at state this year.

The Page girls are competing in the A-AA Middle Tennessee sectional at Lipscomb this week to try to qualify for state, with running events on Thursday.

Henry Nichols is a freelance contributor to Franklin Home Page. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @Henry_IX.

About The Author

Kelly Gilfillan is the owner-publisher of Home Page Media Group which has been publishing hyperlocal news since 2009.

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