Chaminade’s Eagle Engineering Robotics Team 1138 brought home a big win from the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) San Diego Regional Tournament, showing incredible grit and determination by battling back from last place to land a spot in the tournament finals and becoming part of the winning three-team alliance. This was Chaminade’s first FRC Regional Tournament victory since 2006.
The team began in good form on Thursday with a smooth day of inspection, practice and programming. However, once qualifying rounds began, they faced an uncommon string of technical and design malfunctions, strong opposing alliances and a large dose of bad luck to find themselves in 59th place after the first seven of 10 qualifying matches. “We knew that the ranking did not truly reflect our robot’s performance on the field, or the capabilities of our drive team and pit crew, but it’s tough for any team to stay hopeful after such a rough first day,” said the team’s head coach, Tommy Smeltzer. “They did it though. They kept at it and found a way to win.”
After a lively team dinner, Friday night, 1138’s student leaders met to discuss their options. Knowing that the top ranked teams would be choosing two alliance partners to compete with them in the finals and that the prodigious scorers would need a strong defensive partner to get them past other high-scoring teams, they decided to adopt a new strategy in their final three qualifiers to demonstrate the robot’s strong defensive capabilities. The plan worked, and 1138 was chosen by the top-seeded alliance comprised of two previous world champions, teams 987 from Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas and Team 254 from Bellarmine College Preparatory in the San Francisco Bay area. This powerhouse alliance, with Team 1138 shutting down the offensive stars of the opposing alliances, was able to sweep each round of the finals and take home the tournament championship. Each of the teams now progress to the FRC National Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 24-27.