Mounties Reach Podium at Robotics Competition


The team gathers after their competition this weekend

Owen Tucker-Smith, Editor-in-Chief

The Mechanical Mounties, Mt. Greylock’s FIRST Robotics team, earned silver medalist standing on Sunday, joining a powerful alliance that made the finals at the New England District Waterbury Event. After moving on from the qualifying round, the team, along with Aces High and Bobcat Robotics, won four straight playoff matches, but lost narrowly in the final round to an alliance of the Gaelhawks, The Pascack PI-oneers, and the TechTigers.

Losing their first qualification match on Sunday 22-23, the Mounties moved on to win four out of the next six matches, and ended the day ranked 23rd out of 41 total teams.

“We new we were going to do well after our first few matches on Saturday,” said junior Brandon Fahlenkamp, the team’s captain. “Our robot was working well.”

But 23rd wouldn’t be good enough for the Mounties. “We knew we had to move up in the rankings a lot if we wanted to get picked for elimination, so the next day we went in with that as our goal,” said Fahlenkamp.

And they did just that. The team managed to win all three of their Sunday morning matches, scraping by with a two, a four, and a nine point lead. This run carried them from 23rd to 15th – an 8 point rank increase – that would put them in the running for alliance selection.

In FIRST Robotics, teams ranked in the top 8 after qualification are allowed to, one by one, pick two other teams for their alliance. At the live picking, the Mounties had to wait and see if their performance and outreach would have been good enough to catch the eye of one of the highly ranked teams.

It took until the last pick, but the Mechanical Mounties ended up being chosen by the highest ranked alliance, which contained the first seed team and the third seed team. This was a moment of relief, said Fahlenkamp.

Sunday afternoon meant playoff matches. After quarterfinal and semifinal matchups, which the alliance won handily, the Mounties and their peer teams were stopped by another trio, but were still able to claim a second place medal.

“It felt awesome,” said junior Kayo Rosse, who serves as the robot driver and electronics lead on the team. “I felt like I was improving every match,” he added.

“We were proud of our performance,” said Fahlenkamp. “It felt really good.”

The team’s performance this year is a decisive step forward from the 2018 season. At the New England District Waterbury Event last year, the Mounties were ranked 20th out of 32 teams, won 4 matches, and did not make the playoffs. This year, they doubled their win number, and added a few more in the playoff round.

But the season is not over yet, and the team still has work to do. According to Rosse, they hope to “improve, obviously, and fix whatever needs to be fixed on the robot.”

“And win,” he added.

The group is in crunch mode, as their next competition is little over a week away. “We put the robot through its paces last weekend, meaning we have a lot to fix, and not a lot of time,” explained Fahlenkamp.

The Mechanical Mounties will compete on March 22-24 at Western New England College at another New England District Event.