TA News

Seniors Win Robotics Tournament, 7th Grade Steals the Show

Guest post by TA robotics coach Leif LaWhite

The first robotics tournament of the VEX Spin-Up season is in the books – and it was a great time for TA’s team 4886. TA sent 6 robots and 15 roboteurs to the day-long competition at Manchester Community College. Senior team 4886B Beefcake (Marshall Melancon, Isaiah Kol, and Michael Fernandez) won the tournament, while TA’s seventh grade team 4886X (Lucca Huling, Stone Riegler, and Jay Hill) stole the show. 

Much to the delight of the audience and the judges (and chagrin of all the high-school competitors), at the end of 47 qualifications matches it was TA’s seventh-grade team, 4886X, who had gone 6-0-0. They were the only team in the entire 31-robot field to have remained undefeated, and so were seeded 1st going into elimination. Having gone 5-1-0, TA’s senior team 4886B was close behind, seeded second. Sophomore team 4886W (Caleb Crossett and Adam Crockett) ended qualifications in 9th place. 

It was a glorious sight to watch TA’s young 1st-time-competitors take the stage as the first to select their elimination-round partner – and also fun to watch the (much larger) high school teams be eager to join with the plucky upstarts. They partnered with a high-scoring team from Bow NH, while Beefcake next chose a team from the SPARK Academy of Advanced Technology from Manchester, NH.  

Alas, the “Miracle on the Field” came to an end – and 4886X finally lost a match in the elimination rounds. Beefcake and their SPARK partner, however, triumphed in the elimination rounds and came away as Tournament Champions.  As champions, 4886B immediately qualified for the NH/VT State Championship – to be held in February.  The rest of 4886 robots will try to earn their States’ berths at the upcoming competitions. 

In addition to winning the tournament, 4886B also won the Design Award for their well-documented and well-executed robot design and game strategy. And then, to the delight of all, the judges gave the Judges Award to TA’s seventh grade students in admiration for their remarkable accomplishment at their 1st-ever competition.  

After building their robots since the start of school, this competition was the first time our student saw the machines from other schools; the day was also an education in how other teams had tackled the same tasks, what worked well, and what didn’t work so well. With all this cross pollination, the competitive bar will be rising in robot labs all across the NH/VT league. This week, our teams too began the sometimes-rewarding and sometimes-frustrating task of improving their robots. In a few weeks, maneuvers that were yesterday seen as “wow!” will be mundane must-haves.

Looking ahead, at least one of TA’s 4886 teams will compete again this weekend at Pinkerton Academy, and the whole crew will hit the road again for a December 10 meet in Plymouth, NH.



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