Spartronics are district tourney bound

The Bainbridge High School robotics team — Team 4915, the Spartronics — hit the road to Portland this week to compete against 63 other squads from Washington, Oregon and Alaska in the FIRST Robotics Pacific Northwest District Championships.

This is the fifth straight year the Spartronics have qualified to compete in the PNW District Championships, team officials said. Matches are scheduled to take place April 5-April 7 at Veterans Memorial Stadium, near the Portland Convention Center.

After finishing their previous recent competition, a Glacier Peak District event, the Spartronics were ranked 20th in overall qualifications. The team competed in the quarterfinal matches, selected as first pick by the fifth-place seed Alliance Captain of the tournament: Cedar Park Robotics Team 3663 from Bothell.

The outcome of the district championship will determine if Spartronics qualify for the FIRST Robotics World Championships in Houston, slated to be held April 18-21.

“We are incredibly proud as a relatively new team to have performed well year after year,” said BHS senior and team co-captain Jon Coonan. “It really shows that a team of 50-plus students, 17 professional mentors and a coach who all work hard to put forth their best efforts can achieve a lot. But, we know that it’s the ongoing support of our community — especially local businesses who sponsor us and our generous parents and families who also fund our efforts — that makes our success possible.”

Spartronics is currently ranked in the top 20 percent of Pacific Northwest District teams.

If the Spartronics earn enough points through match play in Portland, it will be the fourth time the team will qualify for and attend the World Championships in its five years of competing.

Head Coach Enrique Chee noted this is the first year the team has successfully built two identical robots during their six-week “build season.” One robot is used for competition — this year it’s named THEMIS — and the other largely for driver practice. The second robot also allowed the team to produce and test out new, upgraded mechanisms.

In total, students on the team have each put in more than 30 hours working on the second robot since the first competition in order to develop an improved integrated intake and grabber arm that will be added to THEMIS’ scissor lift at the district championship.

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