Monroeville robotics team 'made an exciting run'

Cary Ashby • May 4, 2019 at 6:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Two robotics teams from Monroeville Local Schools took on the best in the world.

The fifth/sixth-grade team and the eighth-graders, who call themselves The Eagle Has Landed, represented the district at VEX IQ Worlds. 

“The kids had a great experience and competed with the best. Both teams fell short of making it to finals. However, our middle school (team) improved their rank in skills to 99 in the world and our elementary (students) made an exciting run to almost qualify for finals at the world championship,” according to a Facebook post by Monroeville Local Schools.

The world championship was Monday and Tuesday in Louisville, Ky. At the Monroeville Athletic Complex before an all-school assembly April 22, the student body gave their fellow students a sendoff, starting with energetic applause as the two teams entered the MAC.

Superintendent Ralph Moore said he “can’t do it in one word,” referring to his thoughts on the teams competing on the international level.

“It’s an unbelievable experience that I think is one of those life-changing experiences for the students, the school and the community,” added the superintendent, who spoke to the coaches and parents after the trip.

“Our students competed against the very best kids in the world. We couldn’t be prouder of them,” Moore said. “That experience — you can’t put a price tag on that.”

Before the world competition, the fifth/sixth-grade team ranked No. 404 out of 5,048 international teams. The students qualified during a signature national event held at Kalahari.  

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).

The Eagle Has Landed became a double-qualifier for the world championship by winning state in the skills challenge and earning state runner-up in teamwork. The Monroeville eighth-graders were ranked No. 111 out of 3,898 international teams.

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). Formed two years ago, the Eagle Has Landed was the first robotics team in Monroeville.

Technology director Adam Gerber talked about the “huge accomplishment” of making it worlds at the assembly.

“This is the best of the best of the best around the world,” he said.

Gerber, who went with the robotics team to Kentucky, said Thursday the teams now have a better understanding of what it takes to compete on the international level.

The technology director said he hopes making it worlds will continue for the Monroeville robotics program. He added he and the coaches agreed the world championship was a great experience for the students to interact with elite, “like-minded students from around the world.”

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