BELDING — The Belding robotics team returned home this weekend with much success in the state championship tournament. One of its two teams was just a few points shy of claiming the state championship.
Competing at Michigan State University with two robots, the students managed to place through several hours of matches all the way into the semifinals and finals amongst the best teams in the state.
By the end of the competition, Belding placed one of its robots into the final match, where it managed to come just moments away from winning it all before losing in five close rounds to claim second place and an automatic bid to the world championships later this year.
“You’ve got to be very smart, intrinsically motivated, and a competitor,” said Belding High School Principal Brett Zuver of the students who competed. “These kids embody all of that.”
Five students from Belding competed Saturday, and managed to place second and third amongst nearly 30 of the best teams in the state.
Throughout the year, Belding battled and competed, managing to qualify for the state tournament amongst as many as 250 Vex Robotics teams in the state of Michigan.
Belding junior Jonathan Parcher, 16, was one of the robotic drivers who made the final match, and said it was a thrill to represent his school on such a high level.
“It was a lot of fun, but I took it really seriously,” he said. “It was also really exciting, knowing that I was representing Belding at the competition. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the finals, if ever.”
Parcher said a lot of work was done in the past few weeks by he and his team members to prepare for the state tournament.
The team went in hoping to finish in the top 12 to qualify for the world tournament and surprised themselves by making in all the way to the final round.
“It wasn’t easy, but we got there,” Parcher said. “We put a lot more care and time into building the robot this time around.”
By finishing second and third, both Belding robots are qualified to compete at the World Competition in March in Anaheim, Calif.
Coach Tom Daller said the April 23-26 trip will be expensive, but he and his students plan to go.
“These were the best teams in the state,” Daller said. “We thought for a moment we were going to win it all, but I’m very proud of our students. To go to California is an opportunity these students will never forget.”
Daller is hoping fundraising by the students, along with funds collecting during the team’s home tournament in February, will be enough to pay for the students to fly to California and stay and compete in the world tournament.
“We’re good enough, now we just need to find a way to go,” Daller said.
“For Belding to have an opportunity to not only represent our community and school, but also West Michigan, at the world competitions, it’s quite an accomplishment and we couldn’t be prouder,” Zuver said. “A lot of students get to do these things through athletics, dealing with pressure and how to react,” he said. “This is just another outlet for our students to get that experience.”