SANDUSKY, OHIO — Battling against teams from six states Friday, Jan. 18, at the Kalahari Classic in Sandusky, Ohio, the Wawasee robotics team earned a trip for two teams to the VEX Robotics World Championships in April at Louisville, Ky., and won the top spot in robotics skills. Wawasee’s 574C and 574D allied together to come from behind and decisively win the tournament championship.
574C scored 48 points in robotic skills, nine points more than the next competitor, taking the Robotics Skills Award.
Wawasee competed against teams from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee at one of the few events in the U.S. where a direct ticket to the world championships could be stamped. “Normally Wawasee doesn’t travel this far, but I wanted to give our teams a chance to showcase the level of competition that they’re ready for,” said head coach Jed Wandland. “Wawasee was ready to take on all comers and they made an impression that was felt around the country.”
It was a grueling day for the Iron Pride, starting with an 8 a.m. check in and ending with the championship win at 11:30 p.m. Friday. This was the most matches ever played in one division at a VEX event in a single day with 222 matches being played in 10 hours. The forecasted snow for the Saturday storm played havoc with the schedule. The planned two-day event was changed to a one-day marathon. A number of the Ohio competitors, who made up a majority of those in attendance, were close enough they bussed in for the tourney.
The Ohio school districts passed down the decision to cancel all bus travel for the Saturday portion of the tourney, leaving the event organizers to determine tit was better to complete the tourney Friday instead of lose competitors Saturday.
One hundred eighteen teams gathered at the water park conference center. Wawasee, used to seeing its teams dominate, found the competition to be very good. “It’s one thing to compete well in Indiana, but the kids want to win world championships,” said Wandland. “This was a good test for the Iron Pride’s readiness for a larger competition. Our stronger teams were reminded how important team members are and our up and coming teams discovered they have what it takes to compete at a regional level.”
Only 574C, 574D, and 574N made it into the elimination rounds. Unfortunately the alliance of 574C & D faced the alliance of 6008B (North Union High School, Richwood Ohio) and 574N in the first round, winning 25 to 5. In the quarterfinals, C & D dominated 6403A, a five-time Excellence Award and three-time tourney champ (Brookside High School, Sheffield Village, Ohio) winner, and 6008D, a two-time Excellence Award and two-time tourney champ (North Union High School) winning 27 to 5. Semifinals saw C & D win in a closer match with 2011D (Brecksville High School, Broadview Heights, Ohio) and 288A, a 3 time tourney champ (Grandville HS, Grandville, Michigan), winning 20 to 13.
The finals were loaded with high powered robots, pitting number one seed alliance 6403B & 6842Z and two seed 574C and 574D. 6403B is from Brookside High School. 6842Z is from Park Tudor Upper School from Indianapolis and is a three-time Excellence Award, five-time tourney champ, four-time robot skills champ and a long standing, yet friendly rival for Wawasee for the last two years. 574C is a two-time Excellence Award, five-time tourney champ and six-time robot skills champ. 574D is a three-time tourney champ. Wawasee lost the autonomous portion of the match, setting them four points behind with only a minute and 45 seconds to recover. However 574C and D rallied back to a solid win of 23 to 10.
Wawasee Iron Pride Robotics will be home at the Hardwood Teepee Saturday, Jan. 26, at Wawasee High School. There is no cost for admission. Opening ceremonies at 9:15 a.m., qualifying starts at 9:30 a.m., finals approximately 3 p.m.
Team results: (team names and members listed at end)
Tournament champions — 574C “Centurion” — Micah Rassi, Evan Rassi, Joe Kelsheimer, Nick Murphy
Tournament champions — 574D “Immortal” — Cory Dunivan, Noah Beckner, Jack Collins, Wesley Hays, Nathan Smith
Robot skills champion — 574C “Centurion” — Micah Rassi, Evan Rassi, Joe Kelsheimer, Nick Murphy