Cordova High School robotics team wins state competition

CHS beats 34 teams from across Alaska

The CHS Wolverines compete during the semifinals match at the state robotics competition on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Photo by Jeremiah Beckett
The CHS Wolverines compete during the semifinals match at the state robotics competition on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Photo by Jeremiah Beckett

Cordova’s high school robotics team is the new state robotics champion.

In a true underdog story, the CHS Wolverines worked their way through the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Tech Challenge competition to become Alaska’s Winning Alliance captain team and earn the trophy.

Complementing this victory for the Wolverines, two of the team members, Ethan Beckett and Dylan Maloney, were nominated to an exclusive dean’s list semi-finalist group for exemplary leadership, community outreach, and academic excellence. The state chooses three ‘finalists’ from hundreds of students to represent Alaska in a final selection process. Ethan Beckett received this honor.

The Wolverines now move to the West Coast Super Regionals being held in Spokane, WA on March 9-11 where they will face off against 72 teams for seats to the World Championships. Dubbed the ‘Sport of the Mind,’ these championship events are packed full of future leaders, engineers, innovators and some of the brightest young minds across the country.

FIRST is the world’s largest non-profit organization focused on science, technology, engineering and math enablement of kids grades K-12.

Thirty-four teams from across Alaska met at the University of Alaska Anchorage Wells Fargo Sports Complex in Anchorage to compete in the state championships for robotics on Feb. 16.

This was only the second year of robotics for the Cordova team, who participate in a very competitive sport against large 3A and 4A schools across the state. Unlike traditional athletic sports that are placed into divisions based on school size and gender, robotics has no barriers and intermixes all students and teams based on age only.

The Wolverines, while visibly enthusiastic, faced some very tough competition, including prior state and national champions.

The CHS Wolverines Robotics team was represented at state by Dylan Maloney, Emory Vican, Ethan Beckett, Kevin Chung, Micah Whitcomb, Travis Hatch and Tristan Glasen.

As the event unfolded, the Wolverines were paired with and against a variety of teams in some challenging matches. The CHS team won match after match, securing the second-place ranking and moving into semifinals.

The Wolverines then had the opportunity to pick their partner alliances for the semi-finals and invited the Eagle River Nuclear Wolves, who they previously partnered with at the MatSu qualifiers. They also selected the Anchorage Diamond High School RoboLynx.

The CHS Wolverines compete during the finals match at the state robotics competition on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.   Photo by Jeremiah Beckett
The CHS Wolverines compete during the finals match at the state robotics competition on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018.
Photo by Jeremiah Beckett

The first semi-final match was very exciting and ended in what some said was the first tie match in Alaska semi-finals history. The round continued with each partner alliance winning a match and moving into a fourth and final tie-breaking match that the Wolverine alliance won by only a few points.

Moving into the finals the teams were very evenly paired, each winning a match by a few points. In the final match the CHS Wolverines scored a perfect start to the round, but then the robot stopped working due to communications issues.

Fortunately, their partner team was able to score maximum points, yet so did the other team, resulting in uncertainty as to who won. Minutes later the scores were posted. The Wolverine alliance won by just a few points.

Jeremiah Beckett is the Cordova High School Tech Club advisor.

Ethan Beckett is his son.