Upping the Stakes at States


Aubrey Stellman, Guest Reporter

From Lapeer to Kalamazoo, from Jackson to Sault Saint Marie, FIRST Robotics teams from all over the state of Michigan united in Saginaw for the Michigan State Championship on April 11-13.

Four different fields were run at the event, which was held at Saginaw Valley State University. The winners of each field then faced off for the title of state champions.

UCS’s two teams, the ThunderChickens and Crevolution, were among the teams competing over the weekend. Both teams made it to the semifinals on their respective fields before being eliminated.

“I was a bit upset we didn’t get past semifinals, but this year we haven’t been playing as well as last year.” senior Megan Modrak of the ThunderChickens said. “I guess because every game is different, that should be expected.”

It was not expected, however, for so many upsets to be pulled off at the competition. Some of Michigan’s biggest powerhouse teams were defeated by unlikely foes. In fact, none of the three champions had won the state championship before. Team 3604, Goon Squad, Team 4362, the Gems, and Team 862, Lightning Robotics, all became first-time state champions.

“It takes a lot to pull off something like that,” Modrak said. “And it’s nice to see the underdogs do so well.”

It was a struggle for the champions to pull through the finals, though. What would normally be a best two out of three setup turned into a five-match faceoff. Every one of the five tiebreakers had been dead even in not one, but two of the finals matches, showing just how tough the competition was.

“It was way more exciting than a district competition,” Wesly, a sophomore on team 1684, the Chimeras, said, “because of the five match final at the end.”

Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST Robotics, appeared at the tournament as well. He spoke during the opening ceremonies, and afterward he toured the competition, taking pictures with and signing autographs for the teenagers who look to him as a role model.

“I was thrilled to see Dean Kamen make an appearance,” Modrak said. “It shows how much FIRST values their Michigan teams.”

Michigan is so prominent in the FIRST community, in fact, that one of its two world championships was held in Detroit this past weekend. It took place at Cobo Center and Ford Field.