Friday, January 27, 2012

Robots Rumble at 2012 Heartland Vex Tournament

Eliot Prusa | Staff Writer  for “The Mount” 

 On Saturday, Jan. 7, hundreds of high school students and fans packed into the Mount Michael gymnasium for an intense competition. This competition wasn’t a sport of physical strength or speed. It was the 2012 Heartland Vex Robot­ics Tournament, and teams from across the state had built robots to compete in this year’s game, called “Gateway.”

“Gateway” is played with two alliances, one “red” and one “blue,” each with two teams. The alliances compete in matches consisting of one twenty-second “autono­mous period,” followed by two minutes of driver-controlled play. Essentially, the ob­ject of the game is to attain a higher score than the other alliance by scoring barrels and putting balls in goals. Teams can also earn bonus points by doubling or negating goals.

This year, the leading Mount Mi­chael team was entitled “The Sleepless Knights.” The team consists of juniors Josh Bloomquist, Tony Gao, Paul Kujawa, and Yun Sik Oh, as well as senior Ned McNal­ly. “We have a great mix of personalities on the team this year. Everyone has their opinions on what direction we should take when building the robot, and definitely it keeps things interesting,” said McNally.

On Saturday, the Sleepless Knights faired quite well. They finished the quali­fying rounds in seventh place out of 43 teams, and moved on to the eight alli­ance elimination bracket. “We were up against the number two seed. We won the first of three matches, then we thought we won the second match, but it was ac­tually a tie,” said Kujawa. “Then we lost the next match. It was 1-1, so we had to win the next one, then we tied again, than we came up short in the last match.”

Despite the disappointing loss, the Sleep­less Knights chose to look at the positive side of things. “All things considered, it went pretty well. Obviously, our goal is to win every tournament we com­pete in, but seventh place is nothing to hang our heads about,” said Bloomquist.

And when it comes to robotics, winning isn’t everything. “The Robotics program’s number one priority has always been teaching students about teamwork, dedi­cation, and technology, with a good mix of intense competition,” said McNally.