Even though the Kansas University football team lost this year to Kansas State University, a computer programming team calling itself "Jay Hawk" cleaned up this week during a competition in Manhattan.
The team, made up of three Lawrence High School students, placed first in the advanced division during the fourth annual KSU Programming Contest. LHS had two other teams that competed in the beginner division. One finished fourth, the other earned seventh place.
Jay Hawk team member Ken Takusagawa, a LHS senior, explained that the competition was divided into six rounds. In each round, teams were given a problem to solve by writing a computer program. The problems, which the students had 25 minutes to solve, included factoring integers, alphabetizing words, converting Roman numerals to decimals and identifying palindromes.
Takusagawa said his team was in fourth place before the final round. To win, he and teammates Jasiu Grzymala-Busse and Will Babbit, both juniors, had to perfectly solve the final problem. The three teams that were ahead of them had to give incorrect solutions in the sixth round. That's the way it came down.
"Siliconphiliacs," the beginner division team that placed fourth, consisted of seniors Wade Palmberg and Jason Pavlicek. The "Worm Slobber" team that placed seventh consisted of Hans Harmon, senior, Mike Turvey and Richie Kennedy, both juniors.
About 200 students from Kansas high schools competed in the event, according to the LHS teams' sponsor, Tom Birt.
Takusagawa has competed at the KSU event for three years. His team was first last year in the beginner division.
"I have been programming forever," he said. "I learned to program in fourth grade. I simply enjoy writing programs."