The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Niles West Robotics Claims Top Spot at VEX Regional


The Niles West Robotics team came out on top at the VEX Robotics Competition Regional Tournament held on Saturday, Nov. 18. The event, hosted by Niles West, featured twenty-eight teams from various places like Oak Park, Aurora, Lisle, Naperville, Bartlett, Huntley and Skokie.

Out of these teams, only two qualified for the state competition after going through eight qualifying rounds. Team 321C claimed first place with four seniors, including William Gayford, Keagan Heger, Hunter Van Mersbergen and Landon Van Mersbergen. Team 321A secured third place with a mix of juniors and seniors totaling six members, including Andrew Thompson, Eleena Kopic, Alex Wolski, Jacob Pagador, Grace Cherian and Kike Raheem.

The team captains were proud, particularly Team 321A, believing that their larger team gave them an advantage this year. They even managed to defeat Team 321C in a match this year, which was a significant achievement for them.

“I’m very proud of how well we did there, we usually focus on the individual aspect of the game and skills and so to win a tournament in normal match play, head to head was very impressive for us,” junior Andrew Thompson said. 

Every year in robotics a new challenge gets released, and for the 2023-2024 season, it was a game called “Over Under.” In this challenge, teams collaborated to score points by maneuvering special balls known as Triballs into goals or specific field areas, earning five points for each successful placement. The last 30 seconds provided a crucial opportunity for teams to elevate their robots, gaining twenty points by lifting them high off the ground using bars positioned in the field’s center. Throughout the competition, teams participated in around eight games each, totaling between 50 to 60 matches.

In this specific tournament, there were 56 qualification matches where each team ended up with a ranking. Team 321A ranked first with more game points. In the finals, teams could pick their opponents: 321C faced the second-place team, and 321A chose the eighth-place team. Both Niles West robotics teams won against their opponents in the finals.

“We weren’t actually expecting to do so well and win so it was quite a surprise, but a happy surprise,” senior Eleena Kopic said.

Looking forward, the team has multiple events and competitions lined up aside from the state championship. While the qualifying Niles West teams are looking forward to getting more practice, other teams are using these events as additional chances to secure a spot in the state competition.

Despite not winning state last year, the team advanced to the world competition due to high rankings in a category solely based on their skills. 

“There are a couple ways that schools advance [to State], one is direct competition and the other is what’s called skills. There’s a good chance they’re going to do better at state this year, our one team is doing very well,” sponsor Robert Foster said. 

The skills aspect involves the team running a match alone, unlike the usual scenario with four robots on the field. It’s divided into a programming part lasting a minute, where the robot must execute a specific program. Points earned independently within that minute are combined with the driving part, where teams try to score points with their robots on the other side. 

Both teams are focused on enhancing their abilities while also improving their robots for direct competition, where teamwork under time constraints is crucial.

“In terms of matches, I think we should definitely improve because we just showed off we could put together a match-winning robot. In terms of skills, we’ll probably be about where we were hopefully,” Thompson said. 

Apart from strengthening teamwork, the team is dedicated to refining their robot designs. Throughout the season, they typically go through about 4 to 5 robots, and teams are already working on their third version for the season. They are making crucial adjustments and incorporating new mechanisms, such as wings. 

Both teams strive for a stronger performance at the State competition this year. However, since they’re expecting a whole new level of competition this year, they want to excel in skills and matches. 

A well-deserved congratulations to the robotics team for their win! Look out for updates on the state competition scheduled for March 16. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Niles West News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *