Though they’re only freshmen, twin brothers Alex and Max Krutko are a binary blast of mathematical mojo.The unassuming Colleyville Heritage High School duo has claimed spots on the Texas team headed to the American Regional Math League national competition next month in Iowa for their expert ability to crunch numbers.It’s their second trip to the national competition.“We qualified in eighth grade, which was even harder,” said Alex, who said they did “fairly well” in the invitational event. The experience should help them improve their scores this year.Forty-five students are chosen to represent Texas in the finals, and the twins say there are few teams that can equal theirs.“What I like about math is the problem-solving,” Alex said. “Not everything is formula-based.”The competition problems have many steps and involve different mathematical skills within the same equation, they say, and perhaps several ways to be correct. “There’s many different ways to solve problems,” said Max. “Usually in school there are just one or two ways.”The brothers, now 15, began picking up math basics early from their parents, Oleh and Irene Krutko, an engineer and teacher who emigrated from the Ukraine when the twins were 3. The boys began competing in math meets in the fifth grade.“Actually, that’s not that early,” Alex said. “A lot of the competitors start in kindergarten.” The Krutkos say it helps to be a team, since tandem practice doubles their preparation.The twins weren’t always so exacting, and their efforts didn’t add up to early victories. “At first we scored very poorly, but that didn’t stop us,” Alex said. “We got better and better as time went on.”They let go of activities that divided their schedules, like competitive swimming, which they did for three years. “We want to pursue our goals in mathematics and in science,” Alex said.Plenty of people at Colleyville Heritage are excited about the twins’ chances.“This competition is the big one where they can really show what they can do,” Heritage Principal Joe Harrington said.The brothers say they won’t pursue the same careers.“I want to be a doctor, probably a surgeon,” Max said, “and if that doesn’t work out I’d probably be a biochemist.” Alex says he’s leaning toward engineering, either chemical or electrical.They say they get quite a few requests for homework tips from fellow students in the 11th-grade pre-calculus courses they’re taking.“I’ll help them if they ask,” Alex said.
Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins