Students from The Dalles robotics teams achieved multiple awards and top-five finishes at the VEX Robotics state championship in Salem this month, and The Dalles Middle School’s team, System Overload, beat 57 high school and 12 middle school teams to finish 3rd overall, won the Middle School Excellence Award and qualified for the VEX Robotics World Championship.

VEX’s 2018-19 competition game, “Turning Point,” involves stacking caps on posts, flipping caps, stacking balls on caps, toggling flags by throwing balls, and parking robots; teams work together to design, build and program a robot to efficiently solve the challenges involved in those tasks. Seventy-six teams from across Oregon, including middle and high school students, participated in the two-day event.

Middle school robotics coach Jesus Acosta said, “I had high expectations for this team at the beginning of the school year and they just kept improving.”

“Representing The Dalles in the World Championship is a huge honor,” said Wasco 4-H robotics coach Lu Seapy. “Over 350 teams from 40 countries compete in the VEX EDR World Competition, and 30,000 spectators from across the globe watch. It’s exciting that The Dalles will have a booth there.”

The world championship event takes place in Louisville, Kentucky, April 24-30. The middle school team needs to raise $6,000 to cover travel costs; anyone willing to contribute should visit vex-robotics.ed.co/wasco-county-4h-robotics, or contact Seapy at (541) 296-5494 or lu.seapy@oregonstate.edu.

Other local participants were Team 5 Elements (Stephen Ganders, Matthew Miller, Jacob Ganders, Haley James and Theo Sandoz), which took home the Sportsmanship Award and placed in the Platinum (top tier) division; Team Terminal Velocity (Cameron Deitz, Keon Kiser, Alex Gonzalez, and Stephen Stanley), which earned the Design Award and placed 5th overall in the game; and freshman team Fusion VEX (Frances Fuller, Angel Garcia, Meghan Lenardson and Shane Squires), which did not advance past quarterfinals in elimination but was 24th out of 32 teams in the qualification rounds.

“I was extremely proud of our students from The Dalles,” Seapy said. “They performed well as teams and collaborated with other groups to bring home the Sportsmanship Award. We have an amazing group of students here.”

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