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Cerberus captures national skills title

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

With the assistance of a school community in Illinois, 2 1/2 hours away from home with a long way still to go before arriving at the VEX Robotics Nationals competition, Triton Central High School’s robotics club needed some help.

Once it received that help and pulled into the Mid-America Center parking lot in Council Bluffs, Iowa, 30 minutes before the check-in deadline, team Cerberus made sure the trip was worthwhile.

Aiming to take home the robotic skills championship, Cerberus did just that, finishing with 184 points, 16 more than How Do You Turn This On?, a robot from Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah.

But the championship would not have been possible without the help of Jeremy Roark, the transportation director from Mahomet-Seymour Community Unit School District 3 in Mahomet, Ill., who picked the three Triton Central teams up and took them to the school while awaiting repairs after its bus broke down. The superintendent of the school district also delivered a Subway lunch for them while they awaited employees from Triton Central to deliver a new bus.

“We made some new friends,” advisor Keith Starost said. “The hospitality was fantastic.”

The replacement bus arrived and the three teams, Cerberus, Bow Tie Bots and surebreC, continued onto Iowa.

Starost said that the organizers of the competition would have been accommodating had the teams not arrived in time for the 6:30 p.m. deadline given the circumstances, but the team managed to arrive by 6 p.m. and had time for their run throughs with the robots.

That night was the skills challenge, which was the championship team Cerberus had their eyes on. The team had to await the results of the team from Utah, and when it became clear that Cerberus had triumphed, Reid Monhollen, who was down on the field, turned to the stands and gave a thumbs up to Starost.

“That’s the one thing that’s all you,” Starost said of the skills title. “It’s how well you code, how well you perform (on the field). And that’s the thing we won. The championship of the overall competition involved a little bit of luck. The two teams that won were fantastic. Knowing we were going in for that skills portion was pretty exciting.”

Bow Tie Bot ended up being seeded fourth and advanced to the semifinals. Starost said surebreC had some “tough luck” with some issues with the motor.

But he was nevertheless pleased with a weekend he, and his students, won’t forget.

During their time at nationals, Cerberus team members saw some ideas from other teams that have inspired them to tinker with the robot. So while this won’t be a complete rebuild – the team won’t make any changes that will affect the skills portion – they are going to be creating a faster lift for the world competition later this month.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking at the start, it started to get smoother, and then we lost some matches,” he said. “It was a fun little roller coaster of ups and downs.”