WAILUKU - An alliance of teams from Baldwin and King Kekaulike high schools from Maui and Kealakehe High School from Kona captured the Maui Fair VEX Robotics Regional Tournament, held at the Baldwin High Gym on Oct. 1, and qualified for the VEX world championships on the Mainland in April.
Also earning a berth in the VEX Robotics Middle School/High School World Championship Event in Anaheim, Calif., April 19 to 21, was a team from Hawaii Baptist Academy of Oahu, which captured the tournament's "excellence" award.
Based on their performances in the qualifying rounds, the tournament champions ended up being seeded third but fought their way to the finals, squaring off against the top seed, an alliance with teams from Maui Waena Intermediate, Kalani High School on Oahu and Paauilo Elementary and Intermediate from the Big Island.
Senior Corey Tanaka of Kamehameha Schools Maui works on his team’s robot at the Fair VEX Robotics Regional Tournament on Oct. 1 at the Baldwin High Gym.
Brian Isdale (left), a sophomore, and Cole Cramer, a freshman, get their robot ready for a match in the fair VEX robotics tournament. Their team was part of the three-team alliance that won the tournament.
Rex Madamba (left in dark uniform), a team mentor who is attending University of Hawaii Maui College, and Jun Sasaki, a senior, were members of the Baldwin High team, part of a three-team alliance that qualifed for nationals.
The champion team won the first two matches in the two-out-of-three finals format to capture the title. The matches pit two of the three teams at a time - Baldwin-Kealakehe defeated Paauilo-Kalani, 26-11, in the first match, and Baldwin-King Kekaulike defeated Maui Waena-Paauilo, 22-11, in the second match.
A total of 31 teams from Maui, Molokai, the Big Island and Oahu competed in the tournament.
This year's VEX game, played on a 12-foot-by-12-foot square field, was called "Gateway." There were 13 goals of varying heights, into which teams could score balls or barrels. Each robot had to be no more than 18 inches in height, length and width at the start of the game.
The robots began the match by running autonomously for 20 seconds before drivers took over for the next two minutes.
After the qualifying rounds, in which each team had about five matches, the top-ranked teams, based on their win-loss records in qualifying, selected their two final-round partners.
The Maui High Robotics/Technology club organized and planned the event, which was sponsored by the club, fair, VEX, BAE Systems and Friends of Hawaii Robotics/Robotics Organizing Committee.