FAIRMONT- The Fairmont Megahertz has ended its season after placing first at the state championship and making it to the FIRST Robotics World Championship for the first time.
“This season was the embodiment of the best season ever. I could not ask for a better season, a better group of friends, a better anything really; absolutely amazing,” said Isaac Sheard, a junior at Fairmont High School and the team’s programming lead.
In early March the team qualified for the FIRST robotics championship after being a regional finalist at the Lake Superior Regional in Duluth and making it to the semifinals at the Iowa Regional in Cedar Falls later that month.
In late April the team traveled to Houston for the multi-day world championship and was ranked 31 out of 77 teams in the challenging Archimedes Division.
“(The world championship) was an incredible experience; there’s teams from all across the world and the sheer size of the event was amazing. There was 600 teams there in a huge convention center … from one end of the mile was about a third of a mile,” said lead mentor Sam Viesselman.
The team competed against multiple teams from around the world including groups from Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom and Israel.
On May 6 the team was one of 36 which competed at the Minnesota State High School League Championship. In order to proceed to finals the team had to proceed through a grueling series of qualification matches in quick succession.
“Every match is do or die, you have to win every one,” said Viesselman.
After entering finals as the number four seed the Megahertz and the two other teams in their alliance won two out of three matches and the state championship.
Team members said the result of the championship was shocking.
“That was the goal of the whole year and we brought it home. We put in the hours and it was definitely something that we earned but it was a little surreal the moment that we won,” said Sheard.
“It still doesn’t feel real to this day. I’ve been saying we’re going to (the world championship) and we’re going to get a blue banner since last year. I can’t believe we actually did both those things this year,” said Aiden Nelson, a senior on the team.
At the state tournament Nelson was one of 15 students in the state to win the All-State Award. This year is the first time the Minnesota Robotics Coaches Association has awarded an all-state award to robotics students. Nelson received the award for his skill at driving the robot at competition and is the team’s design lead.
“I was surprised that I got it, I really didn’t feel like I was really deserving of it because I always thought there was someone else who was better than me,” said Nelson.
Nelson originally joined the team in the seventh grade during a brief period where middle school students competed with the high school team. He said one thing that kept him engaged with robotics was how much he was able to learn while on the team. Since he started in the 7th grade he’s had a chance to work in a variety of different areas and learn different skills such as computer aided design. Nelson was originally attracted to robotics because he wanted to learn how to program, but once he was on the team he realized he was much more interested in mechanical engineering. Once he graduates he plans to major in the field at the University of Minnesota- Duluth.
Nelson cited the culture of the activity as another aspect that kept him engaged with the team. Nelson is also a member of Fairmont’s soccer team and said robotics teams had much better rapport with each other.
“Everybody is so welcoming; if something was to break on our bot teams are jumping at the chance to give you these parts,” said Nelson.
He said he owes his success due to support from his teammates.
“I’d like to thank my teammates for being so awesome and not putting blame on anyone. … I don’t think I’d have made it without all their encouragement,” said Nelson.
Nelson also thanked the support of all the mentors he’s worked with since getting involved in robotics.
“I don’t know a single one that hasn’t taught me something,” said Nelson.
The year Nelson joined the team was also the same year Viesselman became the team’s lead mentor, and Nelson is one of the first graduating seniors Viesselman has worked with since their start on the team. Over the course of his tenure he’s seen the team go from placing in the bottom five at competitions with 60 teams present to experiencing unprecedented success.
While he acknowledged himself and the team’s other mentors have been able to incrementally improve their coaching abilities, he said students teaching each other has been a much larger factor in the team’s performance.
“Robotics is interesting in the sense that kids on the team graduate, but the work that they did carries on. You have kids who figure out how to program the robot well, they pass that on to the next generation to the kid and they pass that on,” said Viesselman.
Viesselman also cited other mentors, sponsors and other community support as factors that allowed the team to succeed at such a high level.
Amanda Poetter is a junior at Fairmont High School and the team’s business lead. She said this year’s success was the result of preparation that stretched back into previous seasons.
“We accomplished a lot of things that were ideas last year that we didn’t implement until this season,” said Poetter.
Ahead of next year’s season the team will hold a summer program to help new team members become more familiarized with robotics. Poetter is optimistic about the future.
“I feel really good (about next year’s season). It’ll be a little hard losing our seniors but I think we have a strong group on our hands and a lot of new members that are really willing to step up,” said Poetter.
Filipino triathlon champion Ines Santiago is set to defend her crown as the Century Tuna Full Ironman gets off the ground alongside the Ironman 70.3 in the co
Max Verstappen claimed his fourth win of the season at a rain-affected Monaco GP to extend world championship lead to 39 po
Pablo Larrazabal birdies three of his final four holes to win KLM Open by two shots; Spaniard claims second DP World Tour t
TAMPERE, Finland (AP) — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the ice hockey world championship on Sunda