‘For the Love of Bots,’ robotics kicks off season


Alexis Lambert

Team 1082C stands in front of their bot. The team was ranked first in the qualification rounds with a match record of 6-0-0.

Disks and engines swept the floor of the main gym Saturday as robotics kicked off the season with their For the Love of Bots tournament. Four of the high school teams made the top 10 with two winning judged awards. Arista and i2i sponsored the event.

The 14 Lovejoy teams competed against schools from Texarkana, Greenville, Southlake Carrol, Skyline, Wylie, Caddo Mills, Commerce, Plano, Granbury and even as far as Baton Rouge, LA; there were 48 teams total. Team 1082C ranked first, 1082R third, 1082x sixth and 1082E eighth. Team 1082E won the Award of Excellence and 1082X won the Design Award.

We had some beginner teams that did exceptionally well,” robotics coach Joshua Strickland said. “Typically, you don’t expect beginner teams to make it to the elimination rounds, but we had some that did so that was a big accomplishment.”

Team 1082C came out as the top-ranked qualification team with a match record of 6-0-0. 1082C consists of students Hannah and Robert Schnurr, Tristan Bourree, Kyle Holiman, Colt Whitfill and Mary Sheridan. 

Bot 1082C is active on the field. Team 1082C made it to the championship round. (Alexis Lambert)

“We got really lucky with our qualifications because they’re randomized,” Hannah said. “We got pretty good matches where we could confidently win all of them. We didn’t lose one. We had finished our robot the day before and we were still doing programming the day of the competition.”

Robots can utilize a catapult to launch string out onto the field and cover tiles. For every match, a team can cover up to 20 tiles and earn 60 points, a match-changing bonus. The catapult on 1082C’s robot failed to operate until the semifinals. 

“[The catapult] kept messing up every single match and we were struggling to try to get it,” Hannah said. “We were really rushed to fix everything, but we figured out something that made it work.”

Finalists 1082C made it to the championship match, where they allied with team 1082R: Christian Cazares, Emily Dillon, Jack Kuhn, Apia Okorafor, Paari Palani, Grant Rasmussen and Liam Whittington. They lost 114-128 to a Wylie team. 

“We’re going to spend a lot of time working on our programming and getting our driver more practiced because that was one of the main things that we lacked,” Hannah said. “We didn’t have enough time to actually get any sort of programming except for the bare minimum done. It was a really fun match, even though we lost, it was so fun.” 

Team 1082X won the Design Award, 1082S won the Innovate Award and 1082R won the Think Award. Team 1082X and 1082J were finalists; teams 1082E, S, C and Z were quarterfinalists; teams 1082 K, M and P made it to elimination rounds; teams 1082D, Y and V participated in the qualification matches. 

Robotics competed in the For the Love of Bots tournament on Oct. 15. Four teams ranked within the top 10 for qualification rounds. (Alexis Lambert)

“Being ready in October is pretty early for a lot of young teams,” Strickland said. “They were all ready, they all fought hard, they did well and they were all respectful.”

The Award of Excellence, measuring the best notebook, interviews and matches collectively, went to team 1082E: Jacob Keane, Tucker Ashley, Sean Chang, Olivia Lee, Alec Miksa, Gregory Powers, Megha Siripurapu, Alex Tranchina and Fletcher Boots. The award made 1082E the first team to qualify for state. 

“Our driver run went really well,” Keane said. “We got all four rollers, we got a good amount of disks and high goals. He ended up in the corner. That was the first time out of the entire competition that both in-game mechanisms worked.”

Robots can launch disks to score points. Team 1082E’s intake was not functioning, inhibiting the disks from making it past the standoffs of the robot. 

“I’m happy with the results,” Keane said. “Of course, our bot could have performed better. There’s always room for improvement overall. We saw a lot of flaws in some of the core mechanisms of our robot, such as the intake [and] two dead zones, where it couldn’t actually get the disks up. We’re going to rebuild the intake.”

Although the high school can’t pay the volunteers at the tournament, Strickland highlights that each is worthy of recognition. A number of alumni, including Ross Walenciak, Abby Carraway and Danny Khalil returned to help out. Joel Walenciak and Iris Whitfill narrated the matches. 

“I’m especially proud,” Strickland said. “I think it’s a mark of a good program when your former students want to come back and help. It’s awesome.” 

The teams are resuming modifications to their bots in preparation for their upcoming tournament in three weeks. 

“If they ever have a loss, they take it well,” Strickland said. “They still congratulate the other team, say good game and they win with grace; that’s the mark of a good competitor. I’m extremely proud of every team regardless of accomplishments [or] their win-loss record, I can’t say that enough.”