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Class of 2014
Sunday, April 14, 2013

RHS Robotics team advances to World Championships

Fifty of the best and the brightest from New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania competed in the FIRST Robotics Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships, but Robbinsville High School and its alliance partners came out on top in a victory that advances RHS to the world championships this week in St. Louis. 

The Stabler Arena at Lehigh University was filled with robot driving, Frisbee-flying, and pyramid-climbing action during the weekend of April 12. “Ultimate Ascent “ was the name of the game, and the goal was to shoot Frisbees into goals of varying heights and point values. For additional points, robots climbed to one of three levels on a pyramid at the end of each match. Each qualification match lasted 2 minutes and 15 seconds and was played between two alliances of three randomly selected robots.

The competition at Lehigh University was quick to heat up, with one of the first matches ending with a score of over 200 points! It soon became clear, however, that victory would be hard-won, with scores sometimes differing by only a couple points. Teams were forced to make every point count, facing the fiercest competition of the 2013 season.

Nemesis quickly rose in the rankings thanks to its superb drive team: students Josh Falk, Antonio Papa, Dan Gavrushenko and mentor Scott Meredith. In one of the closer matches, Nemesis was losing with seconds left on the clock. The crowd began to count down, 3…2…1…, and Nemesis climbed the pyramid at the last second to take the win! In fact, by the end of the second day, Nemesis was the second-ranked team.

Not all of the action was taking place in the arena, however. Back in the pit area, scores of judges visited Nemesis to see the robot and learn more about the team. Students presented the team’s business plan and community outreach events to the awed judges. The safety advisers also stopped by to visit Nemesis’ Safety Captain Parth Mandrekar to ensure the team followed all regulations.

The third and final day of competition kicked off on Saturday. Dance music blasted and teams cheered as the last few qualification matches were played. Alliance selections for the finals were made before lunch, in which the top eight teams picked two others to join them in the finals matches. Working with Storm Robotics from Lenape Regional High School and Sa-BOT-age from Downington High School East in Pennsylvania, Nemesis was part of the first-ranked alliance.

In the quarterfinals, Nemesis faced off against the exact alliance that had triumphed over them in the TCNJ District Event. This time, however, it was Nemesis who emerged victorious. As the quarterfinals advanced into the semifinals, scores were becoming higher and matches were growing closer. One nail-biting match ended with a final score of 191 to 171! Eventually, Nemesis fought their way into the finals. The winner would be determined by best two out of three matches. After winning the first match, Nemesis got ready to face off for the title of MAR Champion. As the match began, robots went flying across the playing field to collect disks, and shot one after another into the goals. There was no doubt it would be a close one, as spectators lost count of all the disks flying into their targets.

Teams cheered and waited in eager anticipation as the final score was tallied by the referees. The announcer called attention to the projection screen where the outcome would be displayed. “With a final score of 140 to 136 … Alliance One takes the crown!”

A triumphant roar erupted from the stands as Nemesis and its alliance celebrated their hard-fought victory. At the awards ceremony, Nemesis was presented with the Excellence in Engineering Award, recognizing the team for its elegant and innovative intake for the swift retrieval of Frisbees.

Nemesis now advances to the World Championships being held this week (April 23-26) in St. Louis.

“Now that we’ve won the MAR Championships, it will be exciting to go to the World Championships and see how we stack up there,” student Josh Falk said.

Originally published in the Robbinsville Sun on April 23, 2013. Click here to read original story