Local Robotics teams do well in first competition

MUSKEGON — After weeks of perfecting their robots the Brethren and Bear Lake High School Robotics teams were able to get into their first competition of the 2019 season at Muskegon Orchard View High School on Saturday.

The Brethren Robotics team poses with teams from Muskegon Norton Shores and Wayland that they formed an alliance with to win a second place medal at the Muskegon Orchard View Robotics competition this past weekend.

The Bobcats and Lakers were in a field of 39 teams and both coaches were happy with the way things worked out for their respective teams.

Brethren coach Mitchell Knoll  said the team struggled a little early on, but then were able to form an alliance with the Muskegon Norton Shores and Wayland teams that earned the Bobcats a second place finish.

“It was a weekend where all the teams continued to learn and improve throughout the first 12 qualification matches,” said Knoll. “The team didn’t finish too hot with their win and loss record after this time, but were able to catch the eye of the top finishing team enough that we were selected to be part of their three-team alliance for the playoff matches.”

That alliance with the Muskegon Norton Shores and Wayland teams proved to be very successful for the Bobcats.

“The alliance was able to sweep their opponents in the quarter final and semifinal rounds only to lose by one point in a best of three finals series against an alliance of teams from Grand Haven, Muskegon and Holland schools.”

During that finals round with the alliance the Brethren team got its highest score in a match during the competition.

“Jacob Hofacker was our driver and he did a great job being consistent from match to match, while also adapting to new challenges that other teams presented each match,” said Knoll. “By the end of the weekend he was driving so smooth that it looked like he’s been driving and operating the robot for months rather than days.”

Knoll said the entire team worked well together throughout the event. The Bobcat squad consisted of Caleb Franz, Hofacker, Markus Jacobs, Riannon Gillis, Eric Grismore, Erica Feller, Will Pasqualone, Eddy Fitzgerald and Justin Moore.

Knoll said the success gave the team a lot of confidence.

“It was great seeing the students feeling the success we had after all the hard work we put in on the robot,” said Knoll. “We feel like we have earned good points toward qualifying for state tournament, but will continue to work hard on refining our game strategy and parts of the robot as we get ready for our next competition on April 5 and 6 in Traverse City.”

Bear Lake coaches John Prokes and Steve Gomez thought their team looked good after a slow start in the matches.

“We had a great weekend as we started slowly, but finished strong,” said Prokes.

Prokes said what attributed to that slow start was all the snow days this winter put the team behind schedule, and they were unable to get in any practice driving time before the Muskegon event.

“The first four or five matches  were basically the first time we were able to run our robot, so there was a little bit of a learning curve,” said Prokes. “Once we were able to fix some issues we were very competitive and improved in each match. We started out Saturday morning ranked 34th out of 39 teams, but we finished 24th at the end of the day, so I am very proud of our team.”

Bear Lake team members include seniors Alyssa Eisenlohr, John Evans, Kyle Fink, Kevin Groll, Curtis Kennedy, Faith Kidd, sophomores Trever Eisenlohr, Edward Fairchild, Pax Nguyen (from Vietnam), Obey Thitisublert (from Thailand), freshmen Megan Gydesen, T.J. Freeman and eighth grade student Bryce Tracy.

Prokes said he looks forward to a much stronger and improved performance at the Traverse City meet in April.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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