Iron Eagles Advance to Super-Regional Tournament
After advancing all four teams at qualifying tournaments last month, St. Dominic Savio’s “Iron Eagles” Robotics Program competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Alamo Regional Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the headquarters of Rackspace in San Antonio. The FTC Alamo Regional Tournament is the largest in the country, bringing the top 78 teams from Central/South Texas to San Antonio to compete for just 13 spots at the next level! After a long day of competing against some of the best teams in the country, two Iron Eagles teams – “Optimus” and “Guardian” – successfully advanced to the FTC South Super-Regional Tournament, one of only four Super-Regional tournaments in the country. With this performance, the Iron Eagles are the only robotics program in Texas to send two or more teams to the Super-Regional in consecutive years!
In the Kane Division, veteran team Optimus and rookie team Guardian got off to a fast start – at one point being ranked #1 and #3. In FIRST tournaments, the top four ranked teams at the end of qualifying rounds select two other teams to compete with them in the best-of-three elimination rounds, so both teams were poised to be captains of one of those alliances. Unfortunately, close losses in their final matches denied both teams the opportunity to stay in the top four – but their fortunes soon turned when both Optimus and Guardian were chosen to join the top-ranked team in their division in the elimination rounds!
Team Guardian opened with an incredibly strong performance, once again executing their autonomous program to perfection and then following with strong play during the two-minute tele-operated phase of the game. Unfortunately, their team captain suffered significant problems during the match, leaving Guardian to score all the points for their alliance – and although they performed admirably, Guardian’s robot couldn’t score quite enough points to overcome the two-on-one matchup.
In the following elimination match, their alliance captain decided to sit out the match and let both Iron Eagles teams play – but a strong move by their opponent in the final moments of the match knocked both teams out in their division semifinals.
In the opposing Naylor division, rookie team Silverbolt faced one of the toughest draws in the tournament. They fought to a 2-2 record in their opening matches, all the while struggling with an electrical problem that had been causing them problems for weeks. Finally, their frantic troubleshooting led them to discover the root cause of the problem – but only minutes before their 5th match, which they also lost. With some fast work, they finally eliminated their gremlin – only to fall in their final match against the top-ranked team in their division, the eventual tournament champions Viperbots QuadX.
Team Prime competed well all day long, but a slight mechanical failure at the end of one of their matches led to a close loss, and they finished in 8th place in their division. They were selected with the 8th and final pick during alliance selection, but despite some fine play, their 4th-ranked alliance was quickly overwhelmed by the strong #1 alliance.
Without being on one of the two division-winning alliances, the only way that any of the Iron Eagles teams could now advance was by winning one of the major design or team awards. Fortunately, for the second tournament in a row, Team Guardian was presented with the prestigious Rockwell-Collins Innovate Award, recognizing the most technologically-innovative robot of the tournament, and Team Optimus won the Control Award for the first time this season – allowing both teams to advance. Their sister team Prime almost joined them with a close second place finish in the Connect Award, but they fell just short in their quest to reach the World Championship for a third consecutive year.
The entire Iron Eagles program is proud to continue to represent Savio at the FTC South Super-Regional Tournament, which will be held on March 11-13 at the Convention Center in downtown San Antonio. This tournament brings the top teams from 12 states in the Southern USA – from Texas to Florida – to compete for a few coveted spots at the FIRST World Championship in St. Louis! Congratulations to all of the Iron Eagles on their incredible season, and good luck at Super-Regionals!