Citrus Circuits hosts, wins Capital City Classic

By Emma Juchau, Jason Jiang, Nathan Koh and Roland Li, Staff–

Davis High’s robotics team, 1678 Citrus Circuits, hosted the Capital City Classic competition this weekend on the DHS campus. A three-day event, the Classic was a big task to take on, and 1678 tackled the endeavor with the help of other teams throughout the region.

“We wanted to host it here because it helps expand STEM in our community and gets people more excited about robots,” senior captain Sophia Stockburger said.

The official FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) season starts in January. Regional competitions are held throughout late winter and early spring, culminating in the World Championships in St. Louis, Mo. which are held in April. Citrus Circuits is the reigning world champion.

The Capital City Classic is considered an off-season competition, meaning that it replays the previous season’s game. Off-season competitions are an opportunity for teams to test new drivers and operators, and for rookie teams to get some extra practice before the season starts.

Christine Pamplona, the captain of Woodland’s 5458 Digital Minds team–which was started by Citrus Circuits–is excited about the hands-on experience that the FRC allows her team.

“Here you can get your hands dirty, work on the robot, you can code stuff, you can do a lot of things and it’s really fun,” she said.

As part of organizing this event, Citrus Circuits planned several fall workshops taught by team members, parents and mentors to help teams improve their skills. These workshops included lessons on wiring, mechanical design, programming, team management, strategy, public relations and scouting.

Scouting, in layman’s terms, is when a player sits in the stands and watches other teams’ matches, recording data and information so that the scout’s team can choose the best alliance with the strongest other teams at the end of qualifying matches.

“We have an app for that,” Stockburger said. Each scout uses a tablet to “input data on how much robots score in different parts of the match, what kinds of pieces they score and stuff like that.”

The goal of this year’s Classic game, Recycle Rush, is to be the team with the most points by the end of the two minute and 30 second period. In order to earn points, each robot stacks gray totes in a designated scoring area. For extra points, a green recycling can is used to “cap” the totes, and “litter” in the form of lime green pool noodles is put in the can.

By the end of qualifying matches on day one, Citrus Circuits was comfortably in first place, followed by 1671 Buchanan Bird Brains and 8 Paly Robotics.

When the qualifying matches ended, the top eight ranked teams were awarded the opportunity to choose their alliances.

Team 1678’s first alliance selection was team 701, the Robo Vikes, from Fairfield. Their second selection was team 751, Barn2Robotics, which is based out of Portola Valley.

Throughout the semi-finals, alliances struggled to hold their own in the competition. Team 3250, Kennedy Robotics, pulled an unusual move in the hope of earning enough points to beat Citrus Circuit’s Alliance One. Kennedy’s drivers worked carefully to put two caps on a stack of five totes. They succeeded, and judges announced to the audience that according to the rules, this double-capped stack would counts as two stacks.

After much deliberation, however, the judges determined that Alliance One still had the lead, and won by only six points. Alliances One and Three moved on to the finals, where they competed in three rounds. The winner of two would be declared the winner.

Before the final matches began, the two alliances made their way to the center, lining up for the traditional sportsmanship handshake. They walked around the arena, shaking hands on one side and high-fiving on the other.

After two dramatic matches and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” 1678 pulled out the win. The team was awarded a trophy and the title of Capital City Classic Winners at the awards ceremony.

Lead Robot Programmer junior Kelly Ostrom, who operates Citrus Circuits’ robot, said the best part of the win was getting to see their allies, teams 701 and 751, win alongside them.

“I got to see a team celebrate, being so happy about winning with us,” she said.

More awards were also given out, including the Excellence in Engineering Award, the Judges Award, the Control Systems Award and the Cheesecake Award.

The Excellence in Engineering Award was intended for a team with an elegant and advantageous design. This was awarded to Kennedy Robotics, for their nifty creation of a two-part robot.

The Judges Award was given to a team that the judges found impressive over all. This title was awarded to Paly Robotics.

The Control Systems Award was, unsurprisingly, for a team with outstanding control systems. This was given to the Buchanan Bird Brains for their camera-guided controls.

Finally, the judges filed to the front of the arena to announce the winner of the award everyone was waiting for, the Cheesecake Award, given to a team that exemplifies the values of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and shows outstanding professionalism toward the judges and other teams.

The prestigious honor was presented to Woodland’s Digital Minds team, and came not only with a trophy, but also with an actual cheesecake and a box of plastic forks to make enjoying the title that much easier.

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