Aluminum Falcons make divisional semis
GROTON — This year the Fitch Senior High School Aluminum Falcons Robotics team accomplished something they had never done before; they participated at the national competition, the FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, Mo.
In the end the Falcons did well enough to make it into the divisional semi-finals.
“The level of competition was intense. Scores that would have been the high score for a district competition, such as the one we won in Springfield, Mass., would have ranked teams below average in any of the eight divisions,” said Coach and Faculty Advisor Brian Chidley.
The championship was not only intense, but immense in scope. According to Team Spokesperson and Mentor Everett Wilhelm, about 600 teams attended, divided into eight divisions of 75 teams, some as far away as Australia.
It was held in the Edward Jones Dome, home to the St. Louis Rams football team, from April 22-26. Two other robotics championships were up for grabs, bringing the weekend’s attendance’s total over 40,000.
The moment wasn’t lost to the team.
“The Superintendent of Schools and the Board of Education enthusiastically supported the team’s trip to St Louis and provided us with the funds to cover the travel cost. Without this we would not have gone, despite qualifying for the second straight year,” Chidley said.
Thirteen students, three parents and four mentors made the 20-hour bus trip.
After the 10 qualification rounds, the Falcons ranked 20th overall in their division. They were good enough to be chosen to compete in the quarterfinals, teamed up with several other schools, entered the semifinals and narrowly missed the divisional finals. To make it past the quarterfinals meant the Aluminum Falcons were among the top 2 percent of FIRST robotics teams worldwide to still be playing.
“The final official FIRST Robotics competition ended with many lessons learned and momentum moving into post season competition,” Wilhelm said.
Seniors in attendance included Jacob Kowalski, Matt Nowak, Fin O’Connor, Emma Stark and Cam Wilhelm, all of which greatly contributed to the success of the Falcons over the years and will leave the team in good hands led by Robert Tompkins, Eamon Costello, Vittorio Pappandrea and Ben Waid.