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East and Denfeld unite in state robotics tourney

Duluth East and Denfeld high school robotic teams joined to vye for the state championship on May 17. A total of 30 teams were in attendance. Beside Denfeld’s DNA and the Duluth East Daredevils, the Northland teams including Lakeview Christian Academy’s Lion Pride and Two Harbors’ Rock Solid. (Photo by Sam Kuutti)1 / 2
Students and judges watch as the robots strive to make a basket. (Photo by Sam Kuutti)2 / 2

Minnesota is the first state to recognize robotics as a state high school league sport. Thirty First Robotics teams gathered to play in the Minnesota state high school league tournament on Saturday, May 17. These included four schools from the Duluth area: Denfeld, East, Lakeview Christian Academy and Two Harbors.

In order to attend the tournament, a team had to either win the Chairman’s Award or place in the top 30 out of 186 teams in the state after their first regional competition. During the qualification matches, Denfeld Nation Automation (DNA) and the Duluth East Daredevils shared the field for the first time in both teams’ existence.

By the end of 45 qualification matches, DNA ranked third and the Daredevils ranked 14. The top four teams were able to select their alliance of three. DNA selected the Daredevils and 12th-ranked Mecatronics from Alexandria, Minn.

“Partnering with another Duluth team was a fun way to demonstrate gracious professionalism and cooperation, the values FIRST teaches,” said Lauren Johnson, Denfeld’s captain.

“It was a ton of fun to cooperate with someone who is usually thought of as a rival, and represent Duluth on a statewide level.”

In the first round in the two-out-of-three contest, the two alliances were within a few points of one another. Denfeld’s blue alliance had just inbounded and tossed a truss shot for

10 points to their human player (each alliance has three human players around the outside of the court). Denfeld was backing away from the side board, poised to shoot and take the lead, when their robot stopped dead on the court. A cable had come loose and that is death to a robot.

Both alliances battled in the next round but in the end, the Duluth alliance was unable to advance.

“Hey, not too bad for a third-year team’s first time at state,” Johnson said. Next year’s challenge will be announced the first Saturday in January. Until then, the team will be growing, expanding and learning.

The winners of the state championship were the Fighting Calculators of Woodbury, KnightKrawler of Irondale and Stormbots of Chanhassen. The Fighting Calculators won the Northern Lights Regional and the KnightKrawlers won the Lake Superior Regional in Duluth earlier this year. These two teams also won the state championship last year.

Leah Abrahams is a member of the media team of the Duluth East Daredevils First Robotics Team 2512. Lauren Johnson is captain of the Denfeld DNA robotics team.