BELDING — The Belding High School robotics teams have been competing at a very high level this year, taking first place in several competitions and tournaments throughout the state.
But on Saturday, the seven students who make up the varsity and junior varsity teams will have a chance to showcase their skills in front of a home crowd for a change as Belding High School hosts its first Vex Robotics League competition in the new school gymnasium.
With 24 teams attending, the event is a World Qualifying Event and a United States National Qualifying event with teams competing in a “Sack Attack” competition.
Teams compete in a 12-by-12-foot-square field in a 15-second autonomous period followed by one minute and 45 seconds of driver-controlled play of the robots created by the students.
Students will create an alliance with another team in the tournament and compete against an opposing alliance with the goal to achieve the higher score.
Throughout the season the Belding varsity team, which is coached by Belding High School teacher Tom Daller, competed in league play in the first ever VEX Robotics League with matches on Thursdays and Saturdays in Grandville. The varsity team finished with an impressive undefeated record of 27-0 with the junior varsity team finishing 23-4.
“The varsity team claimed the league championship, which grants them a berth at the Worlds Tournament in Anaheim, Calif.,” Daller said. “The win also qualified the team for the newly created State Championship at Michigan State University in East Lansing.”
At the conclusion of league play, the varsity and junior varsity teams teamed together to finish undefeated at 8-0 in a tournament in Grandville.
The tournament victory allows both teams the chance to compete at Michigan State, the Nationals Competition, as well as the Worlds Competition.
The varsity team only recently suffered its first loss at a tournament in Webberville where it was defeated in the finals by Cranbrook Academy of Detroit.
Belding High School Principal Brett Zuver said he is proud of what the students have accomplished and is excited to see their talents showcased at home in Belding.
“Our robotics team has had a tremendous year,” Zuver said. “All of the students involved spend an incredible amount of time working on their robots and have won almost every competition that they have entered this season. It is incredible to see the teamwork and how competitive they are as they are constantly striving to improve. It is a great thing.”
The new Redskins Arena has already been showcased through many basketball and volleyball games held within the facility, but Zuver said the school district is very excited to bring in outside schools to the Belding area to compete in the robotics competition.
“It will be a great thing to be able to host the robotics competition here at Belding High School in our new gymnasium,” he said. “We are all very proud of our new facilities and any time we have an opportunity to invite people from other communities in to see what we have to offer our students here we are glad to do it.”
Zuver said the high school’s new facilities are “perfect” for the needs of the competition.
“We have great space on the floor, an abundance of seating and plenty of room for all of the warm-up activities,” he said. “We are really looking forward to it.”
The varsity and junior varsity teams are made of Belding High School students Thomas Weeks, Tre Robinson, Garrett Spencer, Lluc Cardoner, Taylor Sluiter, Tyler Gasper, and Jessie Boyd.
Registration and inspections for Saturday’s tournament start at 7:30 a.m. Qualifying rounds begin at 9:30 a.m. and alliance selection and official tournament play will begin at 1 p.m.