Both Gator Robotics teams capture Great Northern Regional Championship

Head Coach of the Greenbush-Middle River Robotics Team Mary Anderson hugs Max Utter, a member of the GMR Robotics drive team, after their team clinched a regional championship and a berth in this year’s FIRST Robotics World Championships in Detroit next month. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

The two Gator Robotics teams— Badger and Greenbush-Middle River– pose for a photo as one after they, along with a team from Fargo, N.D., formed an alliance that captured the Great Northern Regional Championship at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D., on March 16. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

GMR Robotics Team drivers Kyle Stauffenecker and Ryan Hlucny are focused in as they compete in this year’s spaced-theme FIRST Robotics game, “Deep Space”, at the finals of the Great Northern Regional from the Alerus Center in Grand Forks on March 16. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Badger Robotics drive team members share a group hug after clinching their second regional title in as many weeks following the final championship match at the Great Northern Regional in Grand Forks. The Badger team finished third in qualification rounds and the GMR team first, but the GMR team chose the Badger team as one of its alliance partners, to clinch the regional championship together in the playoff rounds. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

A member of the Badger drive team, Kennedy Truscinski (right) shares an emotional hug with her mom and Badger Robotics Team Head Coach Val Truscinski after their team clinched a second regional title. Both Gator teams— Badger and GMR– have secured trips to the FIRST Robotics World Championships. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

After watching his Greenbush-Middle River Robotics team, 5172, finish qualification matches in first place, Alliance Captain Thor Anderson had the opportunity to choose the first team to form an alliance with for the playoff rounds.

Before choosing, some Greenbush-Middle River Robotics fans in the stands chanted “Thor” repeatedly, while clapping their hands above their heads between each chant of his name, much in the same way Minnesota Vikings fans perform the “SKOL” chant. The cheers in the arena then grew to not just the Greenbush-Middle River fan contingent, but another fan contingent when Anderson chose the first team to form an alliance with– the Badger team, 3750.

Alliance Captain and a driver of the Badger team, Kennedy Truscinski, graciously accepted this offer and shook Anderson’s hand. Both Gator teams and the third member of their alliance, Team 7048, the Red River Rage out of Fargo, N.D., ran the table in the playoff rounds, sweeping their quarterfinal, semifinal, and final opponents in best of three series to capture the FIRST Robotics Great Northern Regional title at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D., on March 16.

“It’s been multiple years that we’ve really wanted to be allianced with 5172,” Kennedy said, “and to be picked by them this year, I don’t know how to describe it.”

When asked about winning a regional title, Badger Robotics Team Head Coach Val Truscinski echoed the same feelings as her daughter Kennedy, who she shared a hug with following the regional title clincher.

“We’ve been talking about it (forming an alliance with GMR) since I started coaching,” Val said. “Wouldn’t it be neat? Wouldn’t it be awesome for us to be on (an) alliance together? And the stars just aligned and it was awesome.”

For those on the Greenbush-Middle River team, capturing that regional title with their neighbors down the road also provided some positive feelings. But, as those on the GMR team pointed out, they didn’t simply pair with Badger due to being just eight miles apart.

“I think it’s really, really emotional being able to do it (capture a regional title) with Badger. It’s something that you always dream of,” GMR Robotics Team Head Coach Mary Anderson said. “They’re your friends and yet you want to always make that alliance that’s the strongest. And this year the strength was between the two of us, and so it’s really cool being able to share it with them.”

A driver on the GMR team, Ryan Hlucny echoed the feelings of Anderson in regards to capturing the regional title with their fellow Gator neighbors.

“Badger was our number one pick to go with because they were the most consistent and the fastest out of all the other competitors that we saw from our scouting data,” Hlucny said. “… Badger was very consistently what we needed. They could do exactly what we wanted and they could basically complement us, and (they’re) a very good team.”

Superintendent of both the Badger and Greenbush-Middle River Schools, Tom Jerome said he felt overwhelmed with many emotions after watching both his teams achieve what they did at this event.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of a couple of school districts with so many great people (who) come together to make this happen on behalf of our kids,” Jerome said. “So, it’s really hard to put into words, but watching … our two teams, our two schools compete and rise above everybody else, it’s really unforgettable.”

Now both of his schools’ robotics teams have officially qualified for the World Championships in Detroit, April 24-27, and the Minnesota State High School League State Tournament at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on May 18. The GMR team also has one more regional on its schedule– the 10,000 Lakes Regional at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on March 28-30.

To see the complete story, read the March 20 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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