Monroeville robotics teams 'shining at the highest levels'

Cary Ashby • Apr 23, 2019 at 7:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Monroeville Local Schools is ready to take on the world. Literally.

The district is sending two robotics teams to the world championship Monday and Tuesday in Louisville, Ky. At the Monroeville Athletic Complex, the student body gave their fellow students a sendoff Monday, starting with energetic applause as the two teams entered the MAC before an all-school assembly.

“This is the best of the best of the best around the world,” said Adam Gerber, Monroeville technology director.

By winning the state championship in the skills challenge and earning state runner-up in the teamwork challenge, the eighth-grade team — The Eagle Has Landed — became a double-qualifier for the world championship.

“Again, that’s a huge accomplishment. We’re the only team in the state to do that,” Gerber told the student body.

Coached by Mike Mandeville, the Eagle Has Landed team consists of: McKenna Dunlap (daughter of Brad and Kari), Spencer Fries (son of Ted and Leya), Anita Ruggles (daughter of Marc and Betsy) and Case Zehnder (son of Shane and Melissa).

The Eagle Has Landed is ranked No. 111 out of 3,898 international teams.

Calling the team a “trendsetter” and a “special class” for Monroeville Local Schools, Gerber said the eighth-graders are “paving the way” for subsequent robotics teams in the district. The team was formed two years ago, the first in Monroeville.

The fifth-grade team was invited to the worlds by qualifying at a signature national event held at Kalahari earlier this year. The students are ranked No. 404 out of 5,048 international teams.

Coached by Kyle Cory, the team members are: Sixth-grade student Anessa Ruggles (daughter of Marc and Betsy) and fifth-graders Cole Perry (son of Brandon and Betsy) and Ethan Pomerich (son of James and Adavee).

Mandeville, the Eagle Has Landed coach, said it takes a lot of dedication, hard work and commitment to make it to the world championship. The students meet an hour before school starts and worked over their spring and Christmas breaks.

“These kids were itching to be here over the summer too,” Mandeville said.

Cory, who coaches the fifth- and sixth-grade team, said his robotics students have the same drive and work ethic as athletes. He is an assistant football coach at Edison and at Monroeville, he is the jayvee girls’ basketball team and coaches track.

“It’s amazing; it really is,” Cory said, referring to competing on the international level. “We’re only able to be here because of what they do. … They put in a lot of work.”

High school principal Jim Kaczor said regardless of the outcome, he hopes the students will have a great experience by getting to know other young people from around the world and will have fun.

“There’s nothing they can’t do,” he said. “They are shining at the highest levels.” 

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