GALION — The local Galion robotics team, "Got a Screw Loose," comprised of captain Matt Gimbel, Tabby Vandeusen, and Missy Vonhoupe, and coached by Isaac Keinath, competed in the “NERD Nation Tower Takeover” competition on Feb. 1 at Norwalk High School.
Forty-nine robotics teams from throughout the state appeared in force in an attempt to win the idolized Tournament Champion Award and an automatic bid to the state tournament in March.
The competition pitted alliances of two teams apiece against one another, each trying to outperform the other in stacking colored cubes and multiplying their points with special “towers” wherein cubes can be placed. The day was divided into two main sections: qualification and elimination.
“Got a Screw Loose” finished the qualification rounds, where teams are randomly selected to play together, with a record of 5-1, securing a No. 4 seed going into eliminations.
Prior to the elimination rounds, the top sixteen teams are allowed to choose their permanent partner for the rest of the day. Utilizing scouting done during qualification matches to find a perfect alliance to complement their own strengths, the team selected No. 28 seed 6403E from Brookside High School.
The duo defeated the 13th seeded alliance with a close score of 35-33 in the round of 16. They then proceeded into a quarterfinals match against the No. 5 seed, winning 29-23.
The semi-finals pitted the Galion-Brookside alliance against the top seed, squeezing out a close win of 34-32. That victory propelled them into the Finals against the No. 2 seed where they earned a hard-fought 40-38 victory, granting both Galion’s and Brookside’s team a place at the state championship tournament.
Keinath praised the team for its “creativity, resourcefulness, and a bit of unconventional strategy.”
“I could not be prouder of this team and their accomplishments throughout the competition season," Keinath said.
“This is the first time that Galion students have won a vex competition since I started the program three years ago. They are now Galion's first ever qualifier for the state competition held in Marion on March 7.
"Although all of my robotics competition students work very hard to prepare, Matt has spent an insane amount of his own time (during school and after hours) getting to this point,” Keinath said.