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Katy, TX (March 23, 2016) In an exciting kick off to the 2016 qualifying tournament season, FIRST® Robotics Competition Team 624, CRyptonite, from Cinco Ranch High School, advanced to the finals of the Alamo Regional, winning a heart-stopping third and deciding match 116-106 in an extremely close best-of-three semifinal.

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While many of teams at the tournament hailed from Texas, this was an international event, with three teams from China, along with one each from Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Turkey.

After an intense day and a half of qualifying matches, CRyptonite ranked fourth in the 66 team field, and was chosen by the second ranked team, Team 3005, RoboChargers, from Dallas to compete along with Team 3579, Rattlers, from San Marcos as the second seed Alliance during the tournament’s elimination round of eight Alliances.

“Watching our robot on the field is as exciting as watching a game of football. I helped build the robot, so I want it to succeed on the field,” said a spectator, Kate Evans, a member of Team 624 CRyptonite.

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Brimstone fires a shot and scores; members of the CRyptonite team cheer on their team

Teams of students and adult mentors worked hard to design, prototype, and build competitive robots during the six week build season, which started January 9, when teams received the rules of the 2016 game, and ended February 23, one week before the start of the seven-week qualifying tournament season. In this year’s game, Stronghold, two alliances of three robots each score points by breaching the opposing defenses, launching balls, called “boulders”, into the opponent’s tower, scoring points and weakening the tower’s defenses.

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Drive team manipulator, Justin Kleiber, and driver, Christian Pawlowicz, concentrate on maneuvering their robot

The team’s hard work showed in the semifinals as Team 624 played in a series of close matches that had the audience completely enthralled.

In an incredibly close best-of-three semifinals, against a strong Alliance led by Team 2468, Appreciate, from Westlake HS in Austin  CRyptonite’s Alliance won the first match by only four points, 99-95, but lost the next 107-100, causing a sudden death round to take place.

Fans and team members cheered and screamed as the game got more tense, but eventually CRyptonite’s Alliance pulled ahead, winning by 10 points, 116-106, sending them to the finals.

Playing a tough Alliance, headed by Team 148, Robowranglers, from Greenville, in the finals made for continuous action and aggressive defenses, including much robot-on-robot contact, as Robowranglers and their Aalliance partners pulled out ahead, eventually winning the final match.

While fans were on the edge of their seats as they watched to see who would win the finals and qualify to compete at the World Championships in St. Louis in April, this week-two tournament was also the first time most, if not all of the teams had competed in the new game with their new robot.

For CRyptonite, it was a chance for the new four-person drive team to see how they and the rest of the team worked together under pressure and see how the other teams’ robots compared to their robot, nicknamed Brimstone.

While there were issues with Brimstone’s shooting accuracy and vision aiming (robots can use an on-board camera to calculate on the fly, the distance and angle to make shots on field targets which are outlined with reflective tape.), shooting accuracy improved as the team learned how best to work with the new robot.

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The CRyptonite robot, Brimstone

“I felt that the regional was a good example of working hard to improve; we were able to improve enough over the course of the regional to compete with one of the best teams in the world,” said Jack Sampson, drive team field coach and the team’s president, speaking about Robowranglers, a former world champion team.

“We plan on adjusting our shooter to make it faster and more consistent, incorporate vision aiming, and add a climbing mechanism”, added Sampson.

The team’s next tournament will be March 25-26 at the Rocket City Regional in Huntsville, Alabama, where they will have the chance to see how their improved robot competes.

“I feel with vision up and running our shooting will drastically improve and give us a huge performance boost,” said Alex May, head of scouting and team vice president

The Alamo Regional was an learningexperience for Team CRyptonite, even though they did not win the finals. “I felt our team performed very well. Obviously, it would have been great if we won, but given how our performance was inconsistent, but improved as the tournament went on, I felt placing second was very solid,” said May.

Courtesy of  the CRyptonite Robotics Team
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