Sports history is rife with teams that came close a few times before winning something huge, like the World Cup or Super Bowl.
The Staples High School robotics team — 2nd and 3rd place finishers at the World Robotics Championships 2 years in a row — overpowered all competition last weekend at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Like the Spanish soccer team, the Wreckers are now world champions.
An energized crowd of 20,000 watched Staples emerge on top, over 3 days of technical and tactical engineering (plus plenty of gamesmanship). Robots — created by students, of course — are programmed to find hidden objects, and target opponents on a game field.
ARMageddon — the Wrecker robot — inspired awe and struck fear in challengers.
Opponents could do nothing to counter its unique tank-link design, 2-arm defensive system and high-scoring autonomous program.
En route to the finals, ARMageddon destroyed the #1 seed 63-0. The next matches were closer, but Staples prevailed 39-30, 76-60 and (in a nail-biter, if robots had nails) 54-52.
The Wreckers won the 1st game of the best-of-3 final 119-50 — the highest single-game point competition of the World Championships — and, in the next match, cruised to victory 43-29.
The event — officially called the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship — began last September with 1,600 high school teams, from around the world. After regional competition, 128 converged on St. Louis. They were broken into 2 brackets of 64 teams each.
At the end, Staples stood alone.
As with sports, true champions rely on continuity. Seniors Haris Durrani and Timothy Yang were returnees from the past 2 years’ near-misses. They kept Staples’ legacy alive, while mentoring 5 new teammates: junior John Solder, and freshmen Erin Gandelman, Mrinal Kumar, Dylan Roncati and Alec Solder.
The Wreckers’ bench looks deep. The future looks bright. Robots around the world are quaking in their animatronic boots.
(Wrecker Robotics sponsors include Lydian Asset Management, Eight Capital, Triple Point Technology and Main Street Resources.)