Despite adversity, robotics qualifies team for Worlds

All-senior 8756G team places fourth in skills challenge to earn berth at at VEX World Championship; 8756S team sails through qualifying only to have robot falter in finals


Lillian Gray

Sophomore Zane Wiggins and junior Jesse Silverman hug after beating one of their toughest competitors in the qualification rounds. This win brought them to a 5-0 record at the time. “I feel like we did great,” Silverman said. “A part of that success was being paired with very strong teams.”

Lillian Gray, Mac photojournalism

Two of the robotics teams competed at the Region 4 robotics competition, held in the McCallum gym, on Saturday. The first half of the event was the qualifying rounds where the teams that ranked in the top 15 out of the 31 teams at the end of their matches could choose their partner for the finals.

I wish we had stayed connected because if we had we probably could have won that. It’s really annoying that we lost because of something out of our control.

— sophomore Zane Wiggins of the 8756S team

Sophomore Zane Wiggins, the driver for the 8756S team, says that the team’s performance in the qualifying round was exciting for them because at the end they held the record of five wins and just one loss and were ranked fifth overall. 

“I was really surprised, because I expected to go at least like 2-3, and we ended up going 5-1,” Wiggins said. “We got really good teammates, and I felt like I drove really well with the robot we had.”

Coming into the finals, the team was matched with the fourth-ranked overall team and had their sights on making it to the next level: Worlds. But, sadly for Wiggins and his team, things didn’t go as planned, and midway through the round their robot disconnected from the controller, leaving them to just sit and hope that their teammates could miraculously beat their competitors single handedly.

“I wish we didn’t have radio issues, and I wish we had stayed connected because if we had we probably could have won that,” he said. “It’s really annoying that we lost because of something out of our control.”

Sadly, their teammate couldn’t pull it off alone, and both teams were eliminated from the competition in the first round of finals. Wiggins teammate, junior Jesse Silverman, felt the disappointment of the unexpected loss just like he did.

The 8756G team (left) competing in the Spin Up competition. “We tried to focus more on skills. because we knew we weren’t going to win Spin Up,” senior Paige Robinson said. The team did in fact end up placing higher in the Skills competition, leading them to a spot in the World Championship. (Lillian Gray)

“It was kind of awful. All that build up for that,” he said. “It had only happened once before, and we thought it was a fluke. Our team from the start hadn’t loved this year’s game, but we put in the effort and we wanted to end on a high note.”

The other Mac robotics team, on the other hand, had a better outcome than Wiggins’ team. The 8756G team, an all-senior team, was also unfortunately eliminated from the competition due to radio malfunction, but they had better luck in the side game: the skills challenge. The skills challenge tests teams’ robots to see how many points they can score in just one minute.

We are incredibly excited to be invited to Worlds … but also intimidated.

— senior Paige Robinson of the 8756G team

The team was able to place fourth in the skills competition with a combined score of 197 points,  earning them a spot in the VEX World Championship competition in Dallas in late April. Senior Paige Robinson, a member of the 8756G team says she is looking forward to competing at the next level.

“It was wonderful that we made it to Worlds, the highest competition level,” Robinson said. “We are incredibly excited to be invited to Worlds … but also intimidated.”

The VEX World Championship is the largest robotics competition in the world with more than  3,000 robotics teams from over 35 nations competing to try and win the best in the world for their event. With such a big event and incredible talent from all over the world, the Mac team will definitely have a challenge.

“The best robots at regional competitions are about the standard at worlds which is very scary,” Robinson said. “People there also generally have 2-3 robots, and we only have one.”

Robinson and her team will compete in Dallas during the April 25-27 high school championships. To follow along with the action, a broadcast of the event will be available on VEX TV.

The Region 4 VEX competition was held in the Mac gym and hosted 31 teams. (Lillian Gray)