Two high school robotics teams from the North Olympic Peninsula held their own at the FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston, Texas, which gathered roughly 400 teams from 33 countries around the world.
Teams from Sequim and Port Townsend traveled to Houston in April.
For the preliminary rounds, the 400 teams were split onto six different competition fields, with roughly 66 teams per field.
The Sequim Robotics Federation ranked 42 out of the 66 teams in the field.
“They proved they could compete at that level,” said Stu Marcy, a Sequim High School teacher and one of the robotics team’s mentors.
Port Townsend’s Roboctopi ranked 39 out of the 67 teams it competed against in the preliminary matches but didn’t place high enough to move on.
Sequim had a lot to prove since the team was selected to go to nationals based on the points and awards it had acquired throughout the season. However, in competition, the team didn’t make it past the district event in Auburn.
“It’s kind of a strange way to qualify,” Marcy said.
The Port Townsend team did qualify for the national event through its competition wins, but Dallas Jasper, one of the Port Townsend parents who traveled with the team to Houston, said the team members were just happy to be there.
“It was just super inspiring for the kids,” Jasper said.
“In our field, we had teams that won the last two years, so it was cool that the kids got to compete against these kids that they considered the best in the world.”
At the end of the competition, almost 30,000 people gathered in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros baseball team, to watch the final teams compete.
However, both teams are looking forward to next year’s competition.
“What the kids really want people to know is they’re looking for more kids for next year,” Jasper said.
Five of the nine students on the Port Townsend team graduate this year and Marcy said the Sequim team always is looking for new recruits.
Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.