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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Scouting Ahead

At one of the team's first meetings of the year, we all came together and decided on season goals. The big question: What did we want to accomplish this year? Some answers included:
  • Make it to the elimination rounds of our Regional Competition(s)
  • Go to two Regionals (Lake Superior and 10K Lakes)
  • Recruit more team members (Have at least 15 people on the team)
  • Expand our community awareness
  • Compete in various awards (Entrepreneurship, Website, etc.)
We have worked really hard for almost 5 months straight now to complete all of those goals. Unfortunately, we did not fund-raise enough money to attend both the Lake Superior and 10K Lakes Regionals. It costs $5000 to register for one and an additional $4000 to attend another. We did not want to miss out on the opportunity to scout and research however. So the team attended the Lake Superior Regional as spectators. 

The team met up at JHS at 5am (yeah, we're insane). Many of the team members did not sleep well the night before so that was a good start to a long day. It is a little over 3 hours from Alexandria to Duluth and the drive there was uneventful. The nicest addition was that Bydlon and Jenna made cds for the team to listen to in the van. They made the drive go by much faster. 

The team arrived just in time for opening ceremonies. They listened to a couple speeches and then started watching qualifying matches. Some people toured the pits and started thinking of our pit layout and tools we wanted to bring. 

The biggest part of the day though, was spent watching matches and thinking of game startegy. Some big takeaways were:
  • Programming a turn and horn lower for autonomous to get basketballs off the middle bridge
  • Autonomous scoring is crucial in qualifying rounds. Some of the games were only 12-10 or something like that. Making autonomous shots is so important. 
  • We will have to get on the bridge first and then let our teammates on because we are so top heavy
  • Playing defense is INCREDIBLY risking. Some matches were determined solely by defense making mistakes and giving the other alliance points
  • Bydlon will probably have a heart attack at some point during the tournament
  • King Tec Team 2169 is awesome. They won the chairman's award and were, clearly, the best robot at the competition. Kudos to them!
The main problem that the team had was that sitting and watching matches, while really cool, is also very hard to do for a long period of time. Especially on little sleep. The energy level of the team (especially by the end) was not what it usually is. We still had lots of fun watching other teams dance, singing along to songs, and cheering for our favorite teams. We stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings and Cherry Berry on the way home which are always tasty. Bydlon was not feeling the greatest but powered through and got the team home safe and sound.
Overall, the day was pretty fun. Leaving at 5am was probably a bad idea but that's ok. The lessons we learned about the competition were INCREDIBLY valuable. The team is confident that our robot is going to kick butt in less than 3 weeks!

A couple reminders about this week: We are touring one of our sponsors (ITW Heartland) tomorrow. We are also presenting at the District 206 Student Showcase on Thursday night at 5:30pm. Come out and support us!

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