Team RUSH finishes first in state championship

By Wendi Reardon Price
Staff Writer
— Team RUSH 27 won the FIRST in Michigan State Championship for the fourth time in its 20-plus year history on Saturday.
“This has been such an amazing week,” said Coach Kyle Hughes.
The robotics team, which includes students from Clarkston Junior High and Clarkston High schools, started the tournament on Thursday going 1-1-1.
“We were really kind of frustrated because we felt we could do better,” said Hughes. “Then, Friday morning, we came in and it was still kind of rough, but we were squeezing out some wins. We finished second place in the qualifying round, which is nice because once we got our rhythm back, we were quite confident.”
By the end of Friday, Team RUSH was picked by the number one alliance – Team 5712 from Hemlock. Team 51 from Pontiac was the third team in the alliance. They spent the rest of the night talking strategy and had a plan for the next morning.
“The first match we went out and scored 140 points,” Hughes said, as they started the semifinals of the Hemlock Semiconductor Division. “We all just looked each other, we could even do better because there were some shots missed here and there.”
Team 51 had a problem and the alliance used a back up robot.
“You get a ticket that allows you a backup robot if you need it,” Hughes explained. “We looked at who the back up was going to be and it was another really solid machine. So we said all right let’s call in the back up robot.”
The alliance lost the third match in the semifinals and went into Match No. 13.
“Match 13 was crazy,” said Hughes. In “We are now in the loser’s bracket and if you lose you are out. Things weren’t going so great. I look up and we are down by 30 points.”
She admitted in a span of seconds questions and thoughts were swarming in her head including how the heck are we going to win and it’s over.
“It’s amazing the things you can think in a matter of seconds,” Hughes said. “I had a lot of thoughts going on and then all of a sudden I was like, ‘no, wait, we’re not done.’ I ran to Team 51, and I said the driver, ‘you got to play defensive. If you can slow them down, we will speed up.’ They did an amazing job at defense. During the defense, we just kept cycling notes and amping and scoring and amping and scoring.
“At the very end, Team 5712 climbed up and they there’s a kind of a speciality shot called a trap and if you put this note in the trap while you’re on the chains you get an additional five points. I didn’t see that they put the note in the trap and the score comes out and we won by five points.”
Hughes added it was a great lesson about not giving up.
“It’s not over until the bell rings,” she said. “It’s not over until it’s over. Just play your hardest and fight as hard as you can and good things happen. I think that was a turning point because from that point on it didn’t matter if the score was down, we just did all we had to do to come back up. I know our partners had a couple failures where their robot went down. There was one time we were playing and we were the only robot moving, the other robots were down and we were scoring like crazy and it just was amazing.”
Team RUSH won the Hemlock Semiconductor and received the Excellence in Engineering award.
The alliance moved on to compete for the state championship, which started with a bump in the road. They won the first two matches but had to replay both of them because something was wrong with the mechanism on the field.
The teams got through it with two wins in the semifinals and two in the finals to win the state championship.
Hughes added they used the full functionality of their robot.
“Our pit crew did an amazing job, keeping it up and running,” she said. “Robots were dying all over the field and we were browning out a couple times because of all the very heavy defense and the racing. I would think we did probably one of the best we could do to win this, but it’s just crazy. So when they name you the champion, It was just crazy.”
She added one of the cool things about the win was the team has friends all over the world. Teams from Netherlands, Israel, California and Texas were reaching out with a congratulations.
“There are people from all over, not just Michigan, but they were all watching all over the world and it was just amazing,” she said, adding Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Ryan and CHS Principal Gary Kaul were watching. “They kept sending me screenshots of their TV. It was it was really cool.”
Finn Berard won Dean’s List. Berard will be interviewed by judges at the World Championship.
Hughes added the Dean’s List honor is based on his contributions to team and community, as well as leadership and communication skills.
“It’s just an amazing opportunity for him,” Hughes said. “We won the Engineering Excellence Award at the state level which was another amazing award. It was a neat opportunity as a whole team. It wasn’t just that the drivers who won, but all of our students are winning too, and the team as a whole won the award, which is pretty awesome.”
Team RUSH 27 current record for this season is 62-7-1 and they are ranked second in Michigan with 402 points, missing first by one point.
They head to Houston, Texas for the FIRST World Championship, April 17-20.

Clarkston Community School’s robotics team, Team RUSH, won the FIRST in Michigan State Champtionship for the fourth time in school history on Saturday. Photo: Dale Schnepp

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