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BHS Robotic Burros dominate league, head to state

Sierra Sands Unified School District – Burroughs High School Robotic Burros Team 7422H continued the legacy of BHS excellence by winning the VEX Robotics League Championships last weekend in Bakersfield. Their performance qualifies them for the state qualifiers, where they will have a shot at advancing to World Championships. 

Each year VEX changes up the game, with this year’s challenge being a version of disk golf. Students build and program robots that can dominate different point opportunities on the field. 

This year’s winning team includes Jonah Gilbert, builder and co-captain; Kieron Rank, builder and driver; Elijah Rosal, programmer; Logan Elwell, builder and co-captain, Matthew Sorensen, builder; Roxy Boggs, notebook; Mikaella Juico, notebook; Amanda Huynh, notebook; and Jullianna Davignon, manager.

BHS Robotics Advisor Damien Jacotin said that the team’s outstanding achievement was the result of the time and dedication they have been putting in since last spring. “They spent their lunches, free periods, and every spare moment perfecting their robot and making their ideas a reality,” said Jacotin.

Robotics is always a test of perseverance, he said. “The first design they made failed. However, after making a reliable robot that was used to win the division, they wanted to improve further. So currently they are working on conquering what had failed beforehand.” 

Elwell noted that the team won every game in the last competition except the first one, where a firmware error undermined them. Sorensen noted that they also captured second in the Skills Tournament — which gives teams an opportunity to demonstrate their coding and driving prowess. Rosal was happy that the autonomous code he wrote for the robot worked in their time of need.

“Our win rate for the division was 100 percent, and most of our games were upsets,” said Juico. Rank added that their win was the result of hard work throughout the competition and being matched with a good alliance for the finals. 

Team 7422B, which is mostly freshmen, earned the distinction this season with a solid record at league competitions and was recognized by the judges with the “Innovate Award,” which honors teams with a strong robot and high levels of ingenuity in the design.

“They also did a fantastic job,” said Jacotin.

He also commended 7422B for coming into the competition strong with mostly new members. “They were well-organized and took the lead at the beginning of the year — they worked well as a team and gave the Varsity team a run for their money.” 7422B also spent long hours on their robot and helped the freshman team through their struggles.

“They are the next generation of robotics, and we hope they keep up the hard work.”

Jacotin also embraces the “rising tide lifts all boats” philosophy, noting that having healthy competition amongst the BHS teams gives them an edge during league competition.

“Even though 7422C were newcomers, they still made a robot that got picked by the 7th place team. There were a few of them who put a lot of time into the robot, and they accomplished something they could be proud of with all their hard work.

“Each team has worked hard and deserves everything they accomplished. Varsity is on its way to state, and we can’t wait to see the outcome of their time and effort.”

The state competition will be held on March 4 at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.