Hesston robotics team qualifies for state

Provided photo

Colin LeFevre, left, and Eli Harpley hold the excellence trophy that they won Saturday in Topeka with teammate Acacia Chrisjohn, who pariticpated in the judges’ interviews via FaceTime. The award gave the trio an automatic berth in the state tournament.

By Blake Spurney

Harvey County Now Staff

HESSTON—Colin LeFevre, Eli Harpley and Acacia Chrisjohn qualified for the state robotics championship Saturday by winning the excellence award at a competition in Topeka.

Only LeFevre and Harpley made it to the competition, because Chrisjohn was recovering from having her wisdom teeth pulled. However, she joined the others via FaceTime during the judges’ interviews, which is a key part of their winning the award.

I was very happy with both of their performances,” coach Trevor Foreman said. “To win the excellence award, that is the highest award you can get in the competition. It’s the best overall robot at the competition.”

Foreman said the excellence award took into account the building, coding, engineering notebook and interviews.

Tyler Baldauf, and his twin brother, Trevor, went undefeated in their first six matches before they were disqualified.

Basically, the refs thought we had pinned for too long,” Tyler said. He said a judge ruled that their bot had held their opponent’s bot against the wall beyond the five-second limit that is allowed.

The Baldaufs placed third in the qualifying rounds, and Hesston’s other team placed five. The two teams lost in the semifinals after they formed an alliance.

Teams at the competition included Topeka teams, a couple of teams from Missouri and Hillsboro, the defending state champions who broke Hesston’s eight-year stranglehold on the crown.

It’s lowered the pressure a little, which is nice,” Tyler said about Hesston not winning state last year. “Granted, I would have liked to have won state last year.”

Harpley said the different personalities on his team worked to their advantage. He said the three of them used to butt heads in the beginning when he and LeFevre were mere acquaintances with Chrisjohn.

Acacia helped us work together and filled that gap,” Harpley said. “She still does. She calls herself the mom of the group. We think literally, and she’s more abstract and will help us get back on track.”

LeFevre said what he most enjoyed about robotics was the building side of things and the progression of how a team works together to accomplish good things.

Chrisjohn said she liked the flexibility of the different ways one can go about coding a robot.

I just like the creative flexibility and going your own way,” she said. “You don’t have to follow a construction book.”

Tyler said Trevor was better at coding and operating a bot, while he is better at building.

I really love to tinker with stuff, and robotics allows me to express myself in ways that I wouldn’t be able to,” he said.

Harpley, a senior, said his friendship with Chrisjohn developed over their mutual enjoyment of Swedish Fish and energy drinks. He said he would absolutely miss his younger teammates next year.

I love seeing them every day and working with them and telling jokes,” he said. “It’s a really good experience I wouldn’t give away for anything. I’m grateful for them.”

Chrisjohn corrected her teammate by pointing out that she was more of a listener than a talker like Harpley and LeFevre. She said she occasionally had to tell her teammates to shut up. She said it was important to stay disciplined and not to procrastinate, which is easy to do.

It encourages you to stay disciplined and work hard,” she said about robotics.

It taught me to sit down and work regardless of what I am doing,” Harpley said.

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