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Sa-BOT-age wins robotics championship

Sa-BOT-age and the Bazinga Bots continued to show that they are two of the best robotics teams in the state Sunday at Benson Polytechnic High School in Portland.

Now, the two The Dalles squads will begin tackling the rest of the country as both qualified for the FIRST Tech Challenge West Regionals in Oakland, Calif. March 24-26.

Sa-BOT-age, composed of The Dalles High School students Spencer Honald, Bill Burns, Tyler Vassar and Rey Aviluz, were on the state championship winning alliance with Batteries in Black. The two teams combined to score a state record 515 points and defeat an alliance led by former World Champion Hot Wired in the finals.

“It [Batteries in Black robot] complimented ours very well,” Honald said. “We could do one side of the field and they could do everything on the other side of the field. It just meshed well.”

The state tournament consisted of 44 teams, split into two divisions, with 14 moving on to Oakland.

Competing in the Timber division, Sa-BOT-age went 4-1 in their five qualifying rounds and were ranked fourth heading into the semifinals. The No. 1 team, Occam’s Razor, out of Hood River, chose Syntax Error for their alliance. Batteries in Black, the No. 2 team, then picked Sa-BOT-age.

Facing the No. 3 alliance, Sa-BOT-age and Batteries in Black easily won their semifinals match and then knocked off Occam’s Razor and Syntax Error in the finals of the Timber division.

“They [Occam’s Razor] dominated the whole day but I guess we meshed better with Batteries in Black,” Honald said. “We started off a little rusty but we gradually came together as we went on. We came in clutch.”

Sa-BOT-age and Batteries in Black then defeated Tech division champion Hot Wired. The Bazinga Bots went 4-1 in the Tech division, losing their only match by one point. Ranked sixth, Quinn Farquharson, Preston Klindt, Rebecca Stiles, Caelen Curtiss, Lauren Jubitz, Azure Compton and Jacob Field were selected to the fourth place alliance and then fell to Hot Wired in the semifinals of the Tech division.

With their tournament over, the Bazinga Bots needed an award to advance to the West Regionals for the second straight year.

They received the Motivate Award, which “celebrates the team that exemplifies the essence of the FIRST Tech Challenge competition through team building, team spirit and exhibited enthusiasm. This team embraces the culture of FIRST and clearly demonstrates what it means to be a team. This is a team who makes a collective effort to make FIRST known throughout their school and community, and sparks others to embrace the culture of FIRST.”

Bazinga Bots coach Jeff Stiles said part of the team’s outreach to the community included two front page stories in The Chronicle.

Honald was okay with Sa-BOT-age not winning an award.

“We actually won the whole thing and proved we’re one of the best teams here,” he said. “That’s the best award in our opinion.”

After winning the state championship, Sa-BOT-age will go into the West Regionals confident.

“It feels like it’s more possible to win because we’ve been there, done it and now we think we might have the chance to do it again,” Honald said.

But there’s always room for improvement.

“We’ve got to pick up blocks faster if we want to be competitive later but that’s about it,” Honald added.

“We’re sitting pretty good right now.”

Sa-BOT-age and the Bazinga Bots will join 70 other teams from 13 different states in Oakland for the West Regionals.

The World Championship is then in St. Louis, Mo. on April 27-30.

“These kids have put in so much work,” TDHS Science Teacher Ajay Rundell said. “Please take the time to congratulate them for representing their school and community in a way we should all be proud.”

Both teams are asking for donations for the trip to Oakland. For Sa-BOT-age, contact Dena Honald online at For Bazinga Bots, contact Stiles at


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