Robotics posts world-best scores

By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Staff Writer
— The Technados and Robowolves robotics teams from Clarkston have qualified for the state tournament during their FIRST Technical Challenge competitions in Lake Orion and Rochester Hills, Nov. 11.
This year’s challenge is called “Center Stage” and mentor and parent R. Joe Brandon shared it is widely considered to be the most challenging competition FIRST has put on in years.
“The teams are very excited about it,” he said.
The game has three parts and takes place in a match within a span of two minutes and 30 seconds. A team participates in a total of five matches during an event and if they score well enough, they move on to the qualifying rounds to advance to states.
For a few hours during their qualifier, the Technados were the highest-scoring team in the world with 220 points. Prior to this in the two weeks of qualifications, no team had broken 200. They were also the second-highest scoring team in the world overall.
“We were ecstatic,” said Brandon. “This was the first time the team had ever advanced to states during their first qualifier, and they were the alliance captains which meant they were the top ranked team of that event. We knew that their score was good, even though the qualifiers had been going on for four weeks.”
He added it wasn’t until Spencer Brandon looked into it they knew they were the highest scoring team in the world.
“When scores were finally posted after all events were completed around the world that weekend the Technados were the second highest scoring team in the world and are ranked No. 1 in the state of Michigan and No. 3 in the world. The Robowolves are the top scoring team during a qualifying match,” said Brandon.
The Robowolves are the highest scoring in the world for a qualifying match with a score of 217.
Students said there were challenges they had to overcome during competitions.
“It is very difficult learning to scout robots,” said Caiden, a first year. “You have to watch each match very closely to find out who is good with our team and who will make a good alliance partner if we make it to the qualifier.”
Emma Ontiveros, a third-year student, said, “figuring out how to set the autonomous to perform accurately.”
Abby and Sam Zelinski and S. Brandon, who were members of the team from sixth to eighth grade and became mentors, explained how they understood how to help the kids overcome adversity.
The state competition is Dec. 8-10 at Macomb Community College in Warren.
J. Brandon added, “the coaches like Misty Ontiveros, mentors, and parent assistants have been invaluable in making all of this work and educating a new generation of students interested in robotics and team building. The Technados are incredibly thankful to former coach and now mentor Pat Zelinski who has stayed on for years helping to mentor kids.”

The Technados qualify for the state competition coming up Dec. 8-10, and the team is “very excited about it.” Photo: Provided

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