Homestead H.S. takes second place in state robotics contest

MEQUON (WITI) -- If you want competition at the high school level, it doesn't get any better than Friday night football under the lights. And then there is a sport of a different kind. It is the robotics team at Homestead High School in Mequon.

Robotics may not seem like a sport to some, but if you want competition, it doesn't get any better than this!

"It's definitely like sports. It's definitely got spirit, and people have the foam fingers and stuff, so it's definitely really cool and a lot of people come and watch it. There is competitors from all over the state. At state, during the qualifying matches, we were in first place, and during the finals, we placed second," Homestead junior Kelly McCrimmon said.

The Homestead High School Highlanders even wore uniforms to their 28-team competition at UW-Milwaukee.

"We thought that we should pattern our robotics team after the Scottish, because you know, that is Homestead's mascot. Now, the reason we got a Spirit Award for this is because not only did we have team mascots at the competition, we also wore kilts in 15 degree weather," Homestead junior Tony Grueninger said.

Smart and tough these robotics team members are, so how does a competition work?

"Two robots are on each side. There is two teams. Now, you randomly decide a partner and two enemies. The goal of the competition is to score more points than the enemy team does. There are a few different ways to do that, but the main one in this competition is putting blocks in the baskets," Grueninger said.

Like any good team, the Highlanders practice long and hard.

"We meet twice a week for two hours and for the past few weeks, we've been meeting every day, so it is a lot of work, but it definitely pays off. Being able to go to state and seeing that our robot was able to compete so well -- it was just so exciting to see it happen," McCrimmon said.

These competitors are talented, but teamwork is the key.

"It's absolutely about teamwork. I mean, we all have our differences and sometimes in the formative stages it's a little bit hard to get together because we all want the robot to go one way. I want it to do this. I want it to do that. I want it to save the world -- you know, it's that kind of thing. But it's all about working together, because not everybody has all the skills needed to make a robot that functions," Grueninger said.

Everybody has a role -- from the robot builders, to the programmers who code and make the robot move and perform tasks, and when it all comes together, it is a rush for everybody, including the mothers of the Homestead robotics team members.

"Oh my gosh I was so nervous! I was like, I could hardly breathe! I was like, praying -- calm down, calm down after the first competitions because it was just, you know how much time they have put into it and, I just think taking a bucket of parts and a computer and coming up and trying to figure out how to play the game and do the game and score the most points and the strategy and the teamwork and it all just gelled and the teams just really went way beyond our expectations on how they competed," Jill Grueninger said.

Second place was great, but Tony sounded like a player in the locker room who would come up just short after a game.

"The other team had better robots than us, and I think they had better drivers, but on the other hand, I feel like I could've beat them one-on-one if they didn't have their partner so," Tony Grueninger said.

Robotics team members beware: The Homestead robotics team won't be satisfied until they win it all.

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