Thunder Colts head to state championship

St. Mary Catholic School student Nick Teceno (left) and principal and robotics coach JB Watters check on their robot during practice on Wednesday. The Thunder Colts only have a few more days to practice before they compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship over the weekend. (Pioneer photos/Meghan Gunther-Haas)

BIG RAPIDS — Students on one of St. Mary Catholic School’s robotics teams have been working to perfect their skills in the competition ring, preparing themselves for their next challenge.

Students stand together to watch Teceno and Austin Hinkley drive the robot, which will be on the playing fields of the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

After two rounds of competition, the middle school Thunder Colts will enter the arena again this weekend during the FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship in Battle Creek.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a program designed to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators by engaging their science, engineering and technology skills, according to the FIRST website. The Tech Challenge portion of the program is focused on middle-school aged students.

“The team had some trouble at the last match, but they worked really hard at improving the robot. They should do really well at state,” said JB Watters, school principal and robotics coach. “I’m really proud of them.”

Students noted while their first regional competition of the season went well, their second qualifier was not as successful.

“At first, we weren’t going to be able to go to state. Then a team dropped out,” said student Oliviah Malloy. “We are hoping we can win this competition so we can go to world championship in Detroit.”

For the competition this weekend, the robot will be in Battle Creek Thursday evening and matches begin Friday morning at the Kellogg Arena, 36 W. Hamblin Ave., Battle Creek. If students advance, they may compete through Saturday.


Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at

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