Three Robotics teams compete at VEX World Championships

May 11, 2024 — by Bryan Zhao and Florence Hu
Photo by Bryan Zhao
Team 95071X executes their H-tier hang with their alliance partner 151T in their division quarterfinals match.
After clinching separate top awards at the State competition, VEX teams 95071H, 95071X and 95071Z traveled to Texas from April 25-27.

In front of a crowd of almost 10,000 people in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas on April 25, the host enthusiastically announced “United States of America” as a dozen students from across the U.S. walked onto the stage, waving an American flag.

The Parade of Nations is part of the opening ceremony of the VEX World Championships, in which each country sends representatives who are selected based on their team’s overall performance throughout the competition season. Having achieved the top award for overall excellence at the Northern California Regional (California Region 2) Championship on March 10 and the U.S. Open National Championship on March 16, Saratoga High team 95071X sent senior William Cao to be among the dozen students representing the U.S.

Courtesy of VEX TV

Senior William Cao waves at the crowd during the Parade of Nations.

Three teams from the school qualified for the World Championships: 95071H, 95071X and 95071Z, competed in the “Math”, “Technology” and “Science” divisions, respectively. 

Team rankings within each division are determined through a set of qualification matches, where each team plays 10 games. Across these 10 matches, Teams 95071H, 95071X and 95071Z ended up with win-loss-tie records of 3-6-1, 5-4-1 and 1-9-0, placing them at 61th, 40th and 77th rankings.

Among the three teams, 95071X was selected by Team 151T Basement Dwellers from Austin, Texas, as an alliance partner to play in the elimination rounds, forming the 9th seed. In round 16, their alliance upset the 8th seed, which comprised historically strong teams (including the 2022 Middle School World Finalist team and the 2023 High School World Finalist) with a score of 125-117 points. 

“We thought it was going to be super challenging to beat them,” senior 95071X member Kai Otsuka said. “But we worked with our alliance [partner] and were able to take down a match we were predicted to lose [by match predictor software].”

The team lost facing the 1st seed in the quarterfinal round, where they were eliminated with a score of 149-114 against the teams 9364C and 99904B from Brentwood, Tennessee and New Palestine, Indiana respectively.

After the defeat, Team 95071X still gained recognition, earning the Build Award, given to teams with a detailed, durable and reliable robot that holds up against the rigor of competition. For their team, they consistently executed their elevation mechanism at almost every match at the second highest of eight tiers.

“I was really happy because it felt like our efforts of trying to build a good robot — rebuilding and making changes — paid off since the judges noticed that we were putting in effort and trying to make something special with our high climb mechanism,” Otsuka said.

Since their founding three years ago, the club believes this has been their most successful season so far. While Otsuka believes that the teams have room for improvement in aspects such as communication, teamwork and project management, he said he’s thoroughly enjoyed working through all the challenges with his team throughout the season.

“I liked being able to create a bond with the team and having a group of people who wanted to make this dream happen,” Otsuka said. “Going to worlds, winning nationals was just really awesome.”

Tags: robotics, vex
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