The hometown team didn’t get the blue banner it was after, but the home town got blue-ribbon raves from teams and organizers for the inaugural FIRST Robotics Central Missouri Regional hosted April 5-7 at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia.
Smith-Cotton’s Team SCREAM was captain for the No. 2 alliance heading into Sunday afternoon’s playoffs, but lost in the semifinals to the alliance that went on to capture the blue champions banner, the No. 6 alliance of Broncobots, Lee’s Summit North; Kuhnigits, The Barstow School of Kansas City; and Channel Cats of O’Fallon. Team SCREAM’s alliance included Stealth Panther Robotics of Knob Noster and S.C.R.E.E.C.H. of Sapulpa, Okla.
“We were up against an alliance that we were pretty evenly matched with,” said Team SCREAM head coach Michael Wright. “They played really well. I think we played great, tried a little different strategy. This is a game of points; they were close matches, but we just didn’t have quite enough.”
Kent Werremeyer, a coach for Broncobots, agreed with Wright that many of the 36 teams competing in Sedalia were evenly matched.
“It was pretty solid all the way through,” Werremeyer said. “The competition all the way down to about 20 (teams) was really good.”
The winning alliance earned berths to play in the FIRST World Championships April 17-20 in Houston. Team SCREAM will compete there, too, having earned a wildcard berth two weeks ago at a regional in Olathe, Kansas.
Wright said one of Sunday’s highlights was getting to team up with Stealth Panther Robotics.
“We love those guys, they are a lot of fun,” Wright said. “We’re really close, our kids know them really well. There was no question that is who we wanted to play with (in the playoffs). We complement each other. It’s nice when you go into alliance, knowing who you are with, that you can trust them.”
Despite the playoff loss, Team SCREAM did have some moments to celebrate. It earned the Gracious Professionalism Award, in large measure for helping a rookie team assemble its robot when it arrived in pieces and got it running in time for the competition. Wright also was named a Woodie Flowers Award National Finalist; the honor is for outstanding adult coaches and mentors in the FIRST program. Wright was nominated by the students on his team.
Mike Brouwer served as a field announcer for the competition and is on the regional planning committee for FIRST Kansas City’s events. He said he is “very confident they are going to put together an agreement to come back here next year.”
As his team was posing for photos with its championship banner, Werremeyer offered his praises, too.
“This was great, the city of Sedalia knocked it out of the park,” he said. “This venue and this high school and what Michael Wright has done for STEM in this area all have been fabulous.”
Wright saved his praise for Team SCREAM.
“I’m really proud of the drive team and how the robot performed. … I don’t know what else we could have asked for,” he said.