Trinity senior to represent school at robotics world competition

Three points.

That’s how much Simeon Bauman, Preston Kovener and Conner Sims won by in their quarterfinals match in the Indiana VEX Robotics State Championship on March 12 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The narrow margin not only sent them into the semifinals, but it also punched their ticket to the VEX Robotics World Championship, which is set for May 3 to 12 at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

While their journey at state ended in the semifinals, the three Trinity Lutheran High School seniors couldn’t have been happier with their achievement in their final year of high school robotics.

“We were standing with our alliance partner at the end of the match, and we had fingers crossed,” Bauman said, noting they were counting up their score until results were announced. “They showed the other alliance score first, and we could tell from how they reacted. It was such a close match that we really couldn’t tell until they told us.”

Sims said it was great to hear that good news.

“It was definitely a relief instead of having to worry about what we’re going to have to do to try to get into worlds,” he said. “It was like, ‘We have a spot opened up. They opened up the gate to us,’ and it was awesome.”

On a whiteboard in the robotics room at Trinity, the team wrote a 52-week timeline that ended with the world competition. That was the goal all along, and they achieved it.

“It is a lot of work, so to see it finally pay off is definitely a huge relief knowing that you didn’t do all of that work and hours and everything for nothing,” Sims said. “We definitely wanted to get it done for senior year.”

The team qualified for the world competition last year, too, but since it was being conducted virtually, they opted not to participate.

This year, Bauman is the only one of the three able to go. The other two have prior commitments. Some of their younger teammates, however, may be making the trip to assist Bauman.

Between November and February, Trinity competed in five tournaments: Two in Martinsville, one at Immanuel Lutheran School in Seymour, one at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis and one in Greenfield.

The first one in Martinsville was memorable, but not in a good way.

“Like always, we went there, and then it was sort of just realizing that ‘Hey, our robot is not good compared to other people,’” Sims said. “We usually like to get a really early tournament in and then go and compete and find out what’s really bad, what really is working in the competition.”

They had a month and a half until their next tournament, so they used pictures they had taken and ideas they picked up from other teams to rebuild their robot.

At the beginning of this year, they had four tournaments within six weeks. The trio noticed improvements at that second competition.

“Our skills rankings definitely improved quite a bit after that first tournament. That always improves, especially with autonomous,” Sims said. “It gave Simeon time to program. He did amazing with the autonomous. That’s half of the skills course, so that was a huge improvement.”

The mechanical part of the robot improved, too, which allowed them to have success in this season’s VEX Robotics high school division game, Tipping Point.

In the rankings, they went from 15th to second going into state.

There, the robot stayed together, and there were no mechanical issues.

“The real reason that we placed so high in qualifications, which actually led us to getting a worlds spot, is Simeon’s autonomous during the match,” Sims said. “In the beginning of the match, his autonomous every time would get whatever they had to.”

The team also earned points for strength of schedule and winning matches.

“That’s the difference of state. Whenever you get to state, you’re with people who should have a program by now, and so it just makes the match a whole lot more fun,” Sims said.

“Even though we didn’t win every match, we were still ranked higher than some 5-1 teams and I think even one 6-0 team,” Bauman said.

The team went 4-2 in matches at state and ended up ranking sixth.

“We thought the skills would be our No. 1 way to get into worlds, but as it went through the day, it ended up actually going really well for us as far as the actual matches,” Sims said.

For the world competition, the team is making adjustments to the back part of the robot to make it more stable and looking for ways to score more points.

Trinity is coached by robotics alumni Aaron Bloch and Bailey Baker.