Robotics competition winners


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GROTON — The Fitch High School Aluminum Falcons, Groton’s entry into FIRST’s (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition have done it again, they are repeat champions of one of the most illustrious tournaments in the nation.

The Falcons are part of a three-school team, along with RedShift from Westborough, Mass., and the STEM Whalers of New London, another local team that won the BattleCry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

 To understand the competitive season, robotics competitions are divided into two categories; those under the FIRST umbrella and those that are not. First runs nine district qualifying events across five New England states to determine who competes for the New England district championship. Then, the New England district winner goes on to the national championship and the season ends in late April.

After that, other competitions are held, such as state championships or regional tournaments.

According to Brian Chidley, physics teacher, coach and faculty advisor to the team the season was becoming a year of “almosts.”

“We were semifinalists and 12th overall in New England, and we qualified for the World Championship in St. Louis,” he said. “The World Championships took place (last month). We decided not to go due to lack of sufficient time and funding. It would have cost over $700 per person just to attend,” he said in a recent email.

Then focusing on the 36-team State Championship, they were seeded 7th overall on the last day. After several rounds they were beaten in the quarterfinals by the 4th-seed alliance in two very close matches. That left only the BattleCry for redemption.

“This was the 15th BattleCry@WPI, which is now the premiere off-season robotics tournament in the northeast, drawing teams from across New England, New York, New Jersey, and sometimes as far as Ohio,” Chidley said. “Taking place over two days, BattleCry featured 56 teams who all shared the same belief: the regular season is not enough for us.”

Catching a few breaks – making up for equipment problems and draw choices at crucial times throughout the season – the Falcons joined Westborough as the 3rd seed. When defensive specialists STEM Whalers joined the team their chances improved even more.

“Everyone who knew the game recognized that the three teams were perfect for their unique roles,” Chidley said.

According to the coach, the Falcons had an excellent floor intake receiving passes, and a catapult launcher that scored the ball in the 7-foot-high goal with 80 percent accuracy. “The three teams together lost only one match throughout the entire elimination brackets,” Chidley said.

Last year, the Falcons won the same tournament, and thus through a difficult year, their title has been successfully defended.



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