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April 10, 2014

Gig-A-Bots win multiple trophies at nationals

GREENVILLE — For the young Greenville Middle School Gig-A-Bots teams, winning only adds to the fun they have building and playing with robots.

The Gig-A-Bots teams 2148, 2148B, 2148F and 2148K won various awards at the VEX U.S. Open Robotics Championship held in Omaha, Neb.

Every Gig-A-Bots team that competed reached the elimination round at the championship from April 3-5.

Gig-A-Bots Coach Orion Casper said for teams only in their third year of competing, the GMS students were able to hold their own with the other competitors.

“The Gig-A-Bots did extremely well during the tournament,” he said. “I am so proud of how hard they worked. To get to the level they needed to be at, to go to Omaha, and to perform the way they did is amazing.”

The teams won a combined 20 individual trophies for robot play and technical achievement, more than the past two years combined.

Xachary Aguilar, team member of 2148B which finished second place in the 1 v 1 Tournament, said it was an exciting and enjoyable experience.

“It was fun. More fun than competing,” he said.

Aguilar said they did not know what to expect going into the championship, but said they were able to have fun, which helped in the competition.

“We didn’t know how competitive we would be at the higher level,” he said. “We felt honored.”

Casper said the team prepared by practicing driving the robots and scrimmaging not only against themselves, but also members of the Greenville High School Team 4148B Iron Cowboys came to the middle school to scrimmage against the teams.

“It was just a matter of meeting after school and scrimmaging against the high school,” he said. “Any time you can get scrimmage matches in it will help you prepare.”

Assistant Coach Alexis Peterson said the students poured a lot of time and energy into the competition.

The team treated the competition as a sports team, studying previous competitions to find areas of improvement.

“A lot of planning, strategies and building went into it,” she said. “It took lots of teamwork. It was very much a team effort.”

Johnny Tharp, district robotics facilitator and instructor (grades 1 - 8), said the students were well-behaved and worked great as a team.

“The kids listened to us and prepared,” he said. ”They took it seriously and tried to better themselves.”

Team 2148B were tournament finalists, taking second place overall in the tournament after forming alliances with two other teams, the Robot Blasters, and the Unpossibles, before losing a winner-take-all match in the final round.

Team 2148F reached the elimination round before being knocked out.

The team won the Think Award, which is given to a team that successfully utilizes autonomous programming modes during competition.

Team 2148 finished the qualification rounds in 11th place and reached the elimination round before being knocked out in the semifinals.

Team 2148K finished the qualification rounds in eighth place and made it to the quarterfinals.

Peterson said she expects the teams to compete even better during the next season.

“We can’t wait until next year to see what we can do,” she said. “I’m pretty proud of the kids.”

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