Minneota driving team, left to right, Reid Fier (pilot), Logan Schuelke and Devyn Hansen (co-pilot) during competition on Saturday with a teammate (far left) looking on.  Minneota team members include, left to right: Joey Clark, Mackenzie Vierstrate, Kaci Callens, Emma Lipinski, McKenzie Monnet, Kaitlyn Ludwikowski, Reid Fier, Joe Verschelde, Devyn Hansen, Tony DeSmet, Caleb Sterzinger, Logan Schuelke, Thomas Belaen, Carter Schuelke, Coach Darren Clausen, Carlos Martinez, and Coach Justin Buysse.

Minneota robotics team wins region

Robotics rocks! At least that’s how the members of the Minneota Robotics team felt this past weekend when it’s three-team alliance captured the FIRST Robotics Northern Lights Regional title at the Duluth Convention Center. This was the first time Minneota made it to the best-of-three championship round in the nine years that it has had a Robotics team. Last year was the first time Minneota had qualified for the playoffs.

“This just shows that the Minneota team is getting better and stronger every year,” said Coach Darren Clausen. “The kids have worked hard to get here and it showed by how well they did this weekend.”

For the regional win, Minneota’s team received a trophy and a large banner to hang up at the school. Team members each received a gold medal. Minneota has now qualified for the National Robotics competition from April 29 to May 2 in Detroit. The team has yet to learn if it earned enough points in the regionals to qualify for the state event. Minnesota teams can compete in one of several regional competitions throughout the nation. The top 32 Minnesota teams who garnered the most points from those regionals advance to the state meet.

“We probably won’t know that for a couple of weeks when all the teams are done competing,” said Clausen.

In the regionals at Duluth, Minneota had nine qualifying rounds of competition on Friday and Saturday morning with the other 57 teams participating. Upon completion of those rounds, the teams are ranked based on points earned.

The top eight teams then pick the two teams they would like to join them in the playoffs rounds. Minneota was ranked 16th after the qualifying rounds. The top-ranked team gets the first and 16th choice of one of its alliance teams to join them in the playoffs. The second team got the second choice and 15th choice, and so on. The top-ranked team after qualifying rounds was from St. Paul and selected Minneota and a team from New Brighton to form the three-team alliance that captured the championship. The three-team alliance Minneota was a part of swept its quarterfinal opponent in the best-of-three match. In the semifinals, the Minneota/St. Paul/New Brighton team won the first match, lost the second, then won the third to advance to the championship, where it swept its opponent in two straight matches.

“The Minneota team collected balls to feed our team’s shooters, and we also played defense,” Clausen explained about his team’s role in the final. “The team we played against in the semifinals was averaging 210 points a match and we held them under 150.” Minneota’s pilot for the regional competition was Reid Fier, while the co-pilot was Devyn Hansen.

The competition this year was a Star Wars theme entitled “Infinite Recharge” in which two alliances work to protect FIRST City from approaching asteroids caused by a distant space skirmish. FIRST is an acronym meaning For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Each alliance, along with their droids, race to collect and store Power Cells in order to energize their Shield Generator for maximum protection. To activate stages of the Shield Generator, the droids manipulate their control panels after storing a specific number of Power Cells.

Near the end of the competition, the droids race to their Rendezvous Point to get their Shield Generator operational in order to protect their city. The competition is based on a points system, with points for Power Cells increasing in value as they become more difficult to store.

Under strict rules, robotics teams have to raise funds, design a team “brand”, hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-sized robots to compete in a difficult game in less than two months. Minneota team members are: seniors Tony DeSmet, Nolan Genzler and Mackenzie Vierstraete; juniors Reid Fier, McKenzie Monnet, Carter Schuelke, Logan Schuelke and Caleb Sterzinger; sophomores Thomas Belaen, Maisie Benson and Emma Lipinski; freshmen Kaci Callens, Joey Clark, Garet DeBoer, Devyn Hansen, Carlos Martinez and Joe Verschelde. Justin Buysse and Jeff Van Keulen are assistance coaches.

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