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Pequot Lakes: Robotics team gets second wind from local support - Team in Detroit for championship round

Despite a rocky start to the season, the Pequot Lakes Patriotics First Robotics team now finds itself competing at the world competition in Detroit through Saturday, April 28.

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Despite a rocky start to the season, the Pequot Lakes Patriotics First Robotics team now finds itself competing at the world competition in Detroit through Saturday, April 28. Photo from Pequot Lake Patriotics Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/patriotics186/

Despite a rocky start to the season, the Pequot Lakes Patriotics First Robotics team now finds itself competing at the world competition in Detroit through Saturday, April 28.

The team was on an alliance that took first at a March 31 regional robotics meet in Minneapolis, qualifying for the world competition that started Wednesday, April 25.

The team was nearly eliminated during a Duluth meet where coach Nate Novak said it placed almost last because of a programming glitch and unfortunate alliance pairing.

"We knew we were better than that, which is why it was so incredibly frustrating," Novak said.

The Patriotics had the support of more than 10 sponsors as well as 59 donations totaling $16,000 in addition to school funding. The team's robot had more funding, more attention to detail and was more prepared than many past years, especially thanks to one sponsor.

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"We've gotten a lot more sponsorships now, which is really helpful with being able to purchase parts or even manufacture them because Pequot Tool and Manufacturing makes a lot of tools for us," said junior Erik Huseby.

"One of our most valuable relationships we have is with Pequot Tool and Machine," Novak said. "They are willing to make us parts. It's part of their sponsorship to build prototypes to give us ideas what we want. This year we designed it in CAD, sent it to them and assembled the parts once it came back. That's been huge."

Experience has also helped the team develop. Only two years ago the team and its coaches had to learn how to operate their first robot's control board from scratch. Novak said that process took weeks. Now it takes two days. Thanks to returning students, the team has more experienced builders and drivers. The growing interest in robotics has given the team more resources and experience than ever before, so the loss in Duluth hit hard.

In past years, a loss in Duluth would have spelled the end of the season for Pequot Lakes. Such a short season could have severely damaged the morale of the 3-year-old program.

"If that would have been our end result I think there would be a lot of students who would have been frustrated and probably would not have come out next year," Novak said. 'We may have seen the team shrink a bit along with the program."

Due to growing local support, however, Patriotics would have one more shot, and what a shot they gave it. Due to being accepted as a school sponsored activity in 2017, the program had the support and funding to attend another regional meet, in Minneapolis.

The team used what it knew from the Duluth meet to help prepare. They got inspected early and joined eight practice games, whereas most teams only practiced three times.

They performed well in their competitions and were selected by a top team to be the second pick in their alliance. The alliance dominated eliminations rounds going 6-0 to take No. 1 at the competition, automatically earning a place in the world competition in Detroit.

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"We were in such disbelief and when we won it was like 10 minutes of screaming and crying for the entire team," said senior Maddy Conrad. "It was great."

"Nothing beats that feeling of just realizing you've done it and accomplished your goals and surpassed them," Huseby said.

The team impressed the coaches.

"They didn't lose any resolve even after their rough first outing," Novak said. "That's the most inspiring thing about it for me."

As the program continues, team experience is expected to grow. Some students, like Huseby, have been with the program since year one. This year the team will only lose two students to graduation, meaning there will likely be many returning students with experience, and with that, a growing number of female team members.

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Despite a rocky start to the season, the Pequot Lakes Patriotics First Robotics team now finds itself competing at the world competition in Detroit through Saturday, April 28.

Related Topics: PEQUOT LAKES
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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