By: Mitchell Lai ’18
Bellarmine robotics, Team 254, emerged victorious on their home turf as they bested 40 other teams across the nation at the 4th annual Chezy Champs, an off-season FIRST robotics competition. In a thrilling championship match, Team 254 and their alliance with 2 other teams won with a final score of 527 – 461.
This year’s FIRST robotics game, Steam Works, involved two tasks. Robots were required to collect Wiffle balls randomly placed around the field. The robots were expected to then shoot the balls into their own respective baskets located on the four corners of the arena. Teams must also direct their robots to gather plastic gears and deliver them to their team’s respective towers at the center of the field. Each match features 2 alliances of 3 teams. Games initiated with a 15-second period when the robots run autonomously on pre-programmed commands. In the remaining minutes, the skills of the robot drivers are tested as they take the reins.
Though Team 254’s robot, Misfire, is a seasoned veteran in robotics competition, the Cheesy Poofs faced several challenges en route to the championship. During their build season, significant tinkering and testing were done to get the robot in tip-top shape.
“The main thing we struggled with was our shooter and feeder system. We spent a longer time prototyping our feeder than basically any other year before” Griffin Soule ‘18, President of Team 254, said. “We were really struggling to get our feeder system and our shooter to work well together.”
In addition to the technical challenges of creating the perfect build, the Cheesy Poofs’ main struggle during the tournament occurred during the 15-second autonomous period.
“We were a little shaky on our autonomous. We’ve only successfully made it work 1 time. Our robot is built around our autonomous mode because it’s just worth so many points” Justin Ramirez ‘18, Team 254’s Lead Driver, said. “We’ve really had to compensate this entire event for that missing autonomous. It’s made the tournament a lot more difficult for us.”
At the end of the first day of competition, after only losing 2 qualification matches, Team 254 advanced to the elimination matches in the top seed, securing them the first pick in playoff alliances.
“We had a few losses, which were unexpected, but we’re getting back in the groove of things” Ashwin Adulla ’18, Team 254’s Technical Lead, said.
“The first two regionals we had with this robot, we did really well. We didn’t lose a single match. Here, we’ve lost a few matches,” Soule said. “We’re not doing as well as we’d hoped. We usually go in with the expectation that we’re going to do outstanding, and I think that can be not the greatest.”
Team 254 and the red alliance breezed through their quarter finals matchup, winning in two games. In a gripping semi-finals match, Team 254 bested the opposing alliance, winning the tie-breaker in a 3-game series with a final score of 521 – 347.
“We lost in the second match. We didn’t communicate with our partners well. We got in each other’s way, and it was kind of an unclean match” Themistocles Hadjiioannou ’18, Team 254’s technical leader and robot operator, said. “After that, we talked about how we were going to strategize for the next match, and it worked out pretty well.”
Despite several bumps in the road, Team 254 stood tall on the podium as they have many times in their historic past. The victory sets Team 254 on the path towards another World Championship as they take on a new season.
“This is just a great way to end off the past season and head into the next one,” Brandon Chuang ’19, Team 254 drive team member, said. “This season has been an undefeated [one], and I’m really looking forward to the rest of it.”