TA’s Robotics Team Wins Big at Tournament
November 02, 2021
Saturday was a big day for Thetford Academy’s VEX Robotics Team 4886–their first competition of the season and the first in-person VEX event for VT/NH since the state championships in February of 2020. The VEX kickoff event, hosted at Manchester Community College, brought together 23 student teams from 6 schools to compete in VEX’s “Tipping Point” Challenge. TA’s robotics team members brought five robots to the event:
- String Theory – Aden Perry ’24, Connor Kutter-Walker ’26, and Duncan MacPhee ’27
- Waluigi – Caleb Crossett ’25 and Andre Whiteberg ’25
- Skunkworks – Eldon Crossett ’23 and Avery Crandall ’23
- Turbo-encabulator – Tate Whiteberg ’22
- Beefcake – Isaiah Kohl ’23, Marshall Melancon ’23, and Mike Fernandez ’23
Over the course of the day, TA’s teams showed their strategy and skill as they put their robots through the paces of Tipping Point. At the end of 33 qualification matches, TA teams Beefcake, String Theory, and Waluigi were seeded #2, #3, and #7 respectively – earning them positions of selectors for the elimination round. Skunkworks and Turbo-encabulator had mixed results and were down in the standings – but don’t worry, a comeback was imminent!
Success in any field, including robotics, requires the ability to collaborate well; to identify and maximize the strengths of contributors. In a VEX tournament, students practice this skill through the competition’s required team “alliances.” For the final rounds of play, each of the top eight teams must choose an alliance partner–one whose demonstrated skills complement those of their own team–to work with in the elimination round.
On Saturday, the #1 seeded team from Pinkerton Academy’s Astros bypassed TA’s #2 seeded Beefcake to ally with another Astros team. That gave Beefcake the opportunity to partner with another TA team, Tate Whiteberg’s Turbo-encabulator. Knowing Tate and Turbo-encabulator well, Beefcake knew that together they could be dominant. Similarly, Waluigi partnered with TA team Skunkworks, while String Theory allied with a team from Spark Academy of Advanced Technology. From there, the day was TA’s.
For the quarterfinal match, Beefcake and Turbo-encabulator took on their teammates Waluigi and Skunkworks and won. Beefcake and Turbo-encabulator then faced two teams from Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies and won. In the final round, it was TA in blue v. Pinkerton Academy in red. The round was a nail-biter, but a masterful maneuver in the last five seconds by Beefcake’s driver Marshall Melancon sealed the tournament win for TA.
In the awards ceremony, TA’s teams were recognized several times for their work. Skunkworks earned the Judges Award given to a group that shows “excellent teamwork, overcomes obstacles, and displays other special attributes and exemplary effort.” Beefcake won the Design Award for “demonstrating an organized and professional approach to the design process, project and time management, and team organization.” And finally, the TA alliance took home the award for Tournament Champion.
TA’s team 4886 will compete next at Pinkerton Academy on Nov. 13.