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Apr. 04, 2017 #43-93 a2z
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BBCHS robotics team qualifies for another trip to world championship

Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School's robotics team wasn't just a flash in the pan last year, when it went to FIRST Robotic's world championship as an all-star rookie team.

A couple weekends ago, Team Ironclad qualified for the World Championships in its very first competition of the year at Bradley University, which drew more than 60,000 viewers online. But how the students did it surprised the entire team.

Once the playoffs started, Ironclad was captain of an alliance that took on the reigning world champions, The Roboteers, of Tremont. As the second-place finishers out of 40 teams, the team punched its ticket to St. Louis, where it will compete against thousands of teams from April 26-29.

"We didn't expect to qualify for champs this way," coach Mark Hampton said. "We tried to build a consistent robot that would execute our strategy. We thought we were more likely to qualify by being part of a winning alliance rather than being captain of the second place alliance."

Similar to their robot, the team climbed a rope up the top.

"It was absolutely shocking," sophomore drive team member Anna Hartley said. "We kept watching the rankings, and we were going higher and higher. Every time we won a match in the playoffs, there was a lot of screaming, jumping and hugging."

Though the team has qualified for the World Championship in each of its two years, the program's 55 members still haven't overcome the rookie jitters. Part of that comes with the team's learning-first mentality. An early qualification, nonetheless, is comforting.

"Our goal wasn't to win," junior Nivin George said. "It was to gain more experience. Now, every competition until the World Championship is an opportunity to get more experience and test our abilities."

Students quickly credited the team's sponsors and mentors for their success. But behind that humbleness is a dedication that stands alongside student-athletes, as indicated by the team's new robotics room at the high school.

"Their success says a lot about their dedication and the work in front of them," said Megan Polsley, a first-year coach with the team. "They are here almost every day, putting in five hours after school on top of keeping up with their homework, family and friends. Their dedication is unlike anything else I have seen."​

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