Varsity robotics claims first tournament win in program history
Posted 03/02/2020 03:13PM

FRC blue banner

During CA varsity robotics' best performance in their seven-year history, the Chargers went 18-0 to claim their first-ever FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) tournament. 

In the qualifying rounds, where 3-bot alliances are randomly created, CA’s robot charged off to a 12-0 record. It was not a breeze, though, as there were two matches that on paper looked like they would favor the opponent. However, CA’s extremely reliable bot consistently performed the scoring elements, including a climb at the end of the game where the bot does a robot version of a chin-up on a moveable beam. This proved to be crucial to the teams’ success because, in 18 matches, Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald-Smythe (yes, that’s the robot’s name) successfully climbed 17 times. After match one, the win gave them the #3 rank, and they vacillated between 2nd and 3rd for a few matches. It wasn’t until their fifth victory that the team secured the #1 spot and never relinquished it -- despite some heat from a fellow Cary team, Cortechs Robotics, who also went undefeated. The scoring system in FRC rewards winning alliances two ranking points per win, and an additional ranking point, if two robots are a able to climb and balance the moveable beam. The Chargers were able to secure that extra ranking point five times in the qualifying matches, while Cortechs’ alliances earned three ranking points only twice. That was the difference in the Chargers being ranked #1 with the Cortechs’ at #2.

At the end of the qualifying matches (where the alliances had been randomly assigned), there is an Alliance Selection process where the top 8 seeds get to choose who they want on their alliance for the rest of the tournament. As the number 1 seed, the Chargers got first choice and it was a no-brainer to go with the only other undefeated team, especially since their strategies were very complementary and had collaborated well in a qualifying match when they had the first successful balanced climb of the tournament and achieved (at the time) the highest score of the day. With Carrobotics (out of Chapel Hill) as the third bot to round out the alliance, they headed in the quarter-finals. In playoffs, alliances must win two matches to move on. If you’ve done the math, it only took two matches in each of the quarters, semis, and finals to be declared the winner of the Wake District FRC event. Win a win, comes a blue banner, and CA was finally able to bring home that elusive blue banner. They were also recognized as having the best autonomous program for consistency and reliability. 

Please join me in congratulating the Chargers for their first-ever appearance on the #1 seed, highest seed they have ever captained, first-ever undefeated tournament, and first-ever tournament win. This puts them in an excellent position to play in the State Championship, as they currently have 78 district points. District points are awarded at the first two tournaments that teams attend, so it’s a cumulative process. However, with such a strong showing and an extremely reliable bot, the Chargers will likely qualify. Their next tournament is March 21-22 at Guilford HS, with the NC Championship on April 4-5 at Campbell University.

If you want to see more statistics or replays from the event, visit

Thank you to all the parents for their continued support, to the awesome kids, and to their other coaches Rachel Atay and Scott Allred.

Go Chargers! 

Betsy MacDonald - US Design, Programming, and Robotics


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