Gr-eight finish for KDSS in St. Louis

Kincardine advances to quarter-finals at World Championships

By Josh Howald

Kincardine District Secondary School has established itself as a world power in FIRST Robotics competition.

For the second straight year, the Kinetic Knights FIRST Team 781 proved its pedigree at the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis with a trip to the quarter-finals. Last year, KDSS finished second at the competition.

“Honestly, overall we were more pleased with this year’s result,” said Grade 12 student Mickey Collins on Monday morning.

The Kincardine District Secondary School FIRST Robotics Team 781 was fourth in a division of 100 schools at the FIRST World Robotics Championships in St. Louis on the weekend. The team is seen here prior to leaving for Missouri. (submitted photo)


“We didn’t think we would be going to this year’s world championship, and the result really established KDSS as a Canadian powerhouse,” she said. “We were the second highest seeded Canadian team, and we really got ourselves out there.”

KDSS qualified for this year’s event by winning the Queen City Regional tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio in early April. The team, which consists of 40-50 people (students, mentors and teachers) left for St. Louis late last Tuesday night. After a 13-hour bus trip, the Kinetic Knights got in a half-day of practice Wednesday and competed in qualification matches, going 2-1 Thursday. Team 781 competed in four more matches on Friday, before wrapping up the preliminary round Saturday morning. Kincardine was in the top-20 for the duration, and finished with an overall record of 6-3-0. For finishing fourth in the division, Kincardine was named captain of the 4th Alliance and selected two American schools to compete with in qualification.

The alliance was defeated in the first match, and then eliminated by a single point (86-85) to the fifth seeded alliance in the final quarter-final competition. Collins said KDSS selected it’s two partners because of their abilities to balance their robots on the competition bridge.

The Worlds weren’t without some controversy. Though KDSS was unaffected, two other alliances were eliminated due to circumstances beyond their control. Technical difficulties affected the red side of the playing board, allowing those teams to only move one robot at a time. A tornado also passed through St. Louis during the competition, forcing competitors to remain inside and organizers to pump up the music volume to distract people from the hail bouncing off the roof of the Edward Jones Centre. The whole thing was an experience to remember.

“The whole atmosphere was incredible,” said Collins. “You get inside, and there are 20,000 people watching and screaming, it was crazy.”

The team stayed until a champion was crowned before heading home to Kincardine. Many parents and supporters made the trip by vehicle to support the team as well.

“A lot of parents came to support us, and we really appreciate those kinds of things,” said Collins, adding that the Kinetic Knights were the envy of the competition when it came to community support.

“A lot of teams wanted to know how we had so many sponsors – many of them have to reach out solely to big-time corporations to get some support. We ended up making more than $1,500 just from our barbecue and penny war, and our community really showed it is filled with big hearts for supporting us.”

The St. Louis tournament completed the competition season, but the Kinetic Knights won’t be disappearing completely. The team will be at several community events in coming months and throughout the summer to show off the robot as a way of thanking the community.

“It was an overwhelmingly incredible thing to go back to the championships,” she said. “It’s something that sticks with you and changes your life.”

So is the pressure now on next year’s FIRST Robotics team?

“I think we can handle it,” laughed Collins.