Stafford robot team wins Alamo Regional, qualifies for World Championship in Houston

By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star

(Photo by Bill McCaughey)
The Stafford Spartans robot climbs a rope during competition at the Alamo Regional last Saturday.

The Stafford High School robotics team, in just its second year of competition, and with its three alliance members, won the Alamo Regional last Saturday. The win qualifies the team for the FIRST Robotics World Championship to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park on April 19-22.

“We really performed well all weekend,” Stafford Coach Frank Hoang said. “We gained a lot of experience at the Houston Lone Star Regional a few weeks ago, and we were able to improve on that.”

Stafford finished the qualification rounds ranked 21st out of 48 teams. The top ranked team, Team 4063, TriKzR4Kidz, from Del Rio, and their robot Hoppertunity, then selected Team 231 High Voltage, from Pasadena and their robot Artemus, and Team 5908, Spartans, and their robot Spartans, from Stafford, to form the Red Alliance.

Team 4063 had previously won the Hub City Regional in Lubbock, and lost in the quarterfinals at the Bayou Regional in Kenner, La.

Team 231 made the quarterfinals at both the Lone Star Central Regional and the Lone Star North Regional, both held in Houston. At the Lone Star Central Regional Team231 won the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors, and at the Lone Star North Regional, they won the Creativity Award sponsored by Xerox.

In the quarterfinals, the Red Alliance swept its best of three series winning 309-155 and 306-195. In the semifinals, the Red Alliance won the first match 268-255, lost the second match by one point, 310-309, but recovered to win the third match 333-185.

“In the championship series, the crowd was really loud for us,” Hoang said. “They kept chanting Red Alliance, Red Alliance. We could barely talk to each other it was so loud.”

In the championship series, the Red Alliance won the first match 310-255, but lost in the second match 402-286 as one of their alliance robots broke down and was unable to continue. Under the rules, the Red Alliance had preselected an alternate robot team, and they were called to the playing field for the final match.

The alternate was Team 3834, the Crab-bots from Port Lavaca.

With a revamped line-up, the Stafford alliance won 280-260 and claimed the championship and a slot in the world championships. In the last seconds of the final match, the other alliance had one of its robots halfway up the climbing rope when it stalled. If it had completed its climb, their alliance would have won.

“In the championship series, our driver, Isabella Garza, just out-drove the other drivers. She was very aggressive and we were the fastest robot on the field,” Hoang said. “Our shooter, Leonel Avellaneda, and our pilot, Lauren Schomburg, did a great job scoring points. Everyone on the team was so excited and thrilled to have won the championship.”

The Spartans will compete at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Thursday, April 20, and if they are able to qualify for the championship, the final matches will be held at Minute Maid Park beginning at 4 p.m. on April 22.

“We all need some rest now,” Hoang said. “It was exhausting going through the championship series, but it was worth it.”

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