After impressive showings at district competitions at Bryant University and Northeastern University, earning three rookie awards along the way (Rookie Inspiration, Highest Rookie Seed, and Rookie All-Star), the Duxbury High School Robotics team was poised to go to the New England Regional competition on April 9-12. Maybe.

 

The official word came on the night of Saturday, April 5: the Duxbury Dragons, USFIRST Robotics Team 4908, was of- ficially ranked 26 in New England, and there would be a pit at Boston University’s Agganis Arena waiting for them — just four days away. When the team loaded their equipment, tools, and robot into the van for pit setup on April 9, they wondered how the com- petition would be different — and how it would be the same. It didn't take long to find out. When the qualifying round competition started on the morning of April 10, the Duxbury Dragons noted that while some elements of the competition were different: play on the field was more aggressive, and the average winning match score was significantly higher.

The Duxbury Dragons got off to a bit of a tough start on Thursday, losing all three matches of the day. In spite of the match losses, the Dragons were performing well in assists on the field, a strength that could carry them far if chosen for an alliance for the elimination round. On Friday, the day picked up a bit with several strong wins and the team was ranked as high as 14 (of 53 teams), and went 4-3 in matches on the day. The scouting crew built relationships with other teams that were higher in the standings, and the techni- cal crew kept the robot in working order and continued to improve onfield play. During the course of competition, the team noticed some unique aspects to the atmosphere at Agganis. The teams and the crowd, while show- ing lots of spirit for their own robotics teams (includ- ing whole sections dressed in crazy outfits), also showed support for and cheered on all the teams in the competition.

The level of respect for one another and the competition was palpable and is one of the things that makes robotics competitions so much fun. Saturday, April 12, was the biggest day of the competition, and with selection for elimina- tion rounds — and the potential to move on in competition — the stakes were high. The team met the challenge with two exciting wins in their last two qualifying round matches. At the end of this round of competition, the Duxbury Dragons were ranked 27 and believed they had formed some strong personal relation- ships with other teams that might lead to an alliance selection for elimination rounds.

Saturday was also the day that the team was interviewed for the Rookie All-Star Award. As recipients of the All-Star Award at the Northeastern district competition, the team was eligible for the award at the regional event. The All- Star award had big a stake: the winner of the regional Rookie All-Star award would automatically get a place at the world competition in St Louis, Missouri, at the end of April. Alliance selection was quick but unsatisfying for the Dragons: despite their strong showing and relationships with other teams, the Duxbury Dragons, team 4908, was not chosen for an alliance. Their robot was done for the day. During the awards ceremo- ny, the Dragons reflected on their rookie season. They felt proud of what they had ac- complished, although they did hope to go even further.

Once again, the Duxbury Dragons received the Rookie Highest-Seed award for being the highest ranked rookie team at the end of the qualifying round. Duxbury Dragons, FIRST team 4908 would like to convey their thanks to the many who championed them in spirit, time, and donations: Dr. Tantillo; faculty advisors Cheryl Lewis, David Scott and Matt Files; The DiBona family; the Nudd family, Mr. Ayers; all the teachers that worked with us during absences during competition season; parents, siblings, and friends of each team member; and the community as a whole that cheered us on.