This weekend, our team attended the FRC District Championships in Indianapolis. As a senior in high school, this is my last year on Team 1720 and my last year as a student in FIRST. That being said, I was honored to be chosen as our robot’s driver this year and beyond excited that our team qualified for District (State) Championships. While the team felt right at home at Warren High School, as if it was any other event we attend, it was clear from the start that the competition there was a huge step up from our previous two district events. A high ranking match before this point was considered to be anything over 80 points. At the State level, however, a good match was over 150 points and the record score was mind blowing 200 points — only 15 points less than the national high score.

PhyXTGears 1720 working on a 6 stack.

This was a little intimidating but within our first few matches, my fears were all set aside. Our recent mechanical improvements had greatly increased the speed and effectiveness of our robot. As we rose through the ranks from the twenties to the teens then finally topping out as the 5th placed alliance in the state going into playoffs, my hopes for winning it all skyrocketed. Our alliance cleared the quarterfinals with ease, making it into the “final four” of State Championships.

Using our scissor-arm to grab a tote out of the middle of the field.

Unfortunately, the teams we found ourselves taking on during this stage of the competition were able to defeat us. We ended up placing fourth in the state of Indiana and, as with all teams in FIRST, took defeat graciously, professionally, and with the knowledge that we had made it all the way to State Championships. We were happy and ready to cheer our competitors on to victory in the finals. The moment was especially meaningful to me as a senior because I knew when the buzzer on that final match sounded, I had graduated from the team and my five life-changing years in FIRST were sadly over.

Our second award for the year!

The award ceremony came next and our team won the Creativity Award, sponsored by Xerox. This was only the second time I had ever been able to walk across the field with my fellow team members and give all the judges/referees a high five in acceptance of an FRC award. We clapped and cheered in recognition of all the other award winners on that day and prepared to start making our way home. Then the Master of Ceremonies announced he was going to tell us which teams would go on to represent Indiana at the FRC World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri. The three member teams of the winning alliance would certainly move on, as well as the winners of other honors such as the Chairman’s Award and Rookie All Star Award. But what I didn’t know was that a handful of other teams would be hand selected by the judges based on their performance this season to represent Indiana in the Championships as well as the state winners.


Our official team photo as one of the invitees to the Championships in St. Louis.

It took them what seemed like hours to deliberate then, finally, they announced the winners of a spot in St. Louis. One after another a representative from all the chosen teams made their way down the field to be recognized. Then…they called “Team 1720 the PhyXTGears.”

Our entire team was up on our feet. We had just been selected to go to Championships! Personally I was so stunned and happy that I didn’t realize for a few seconds everyone was telling me to go to the field and represent our team. Finally I snapped out of it and rushed down the steps to where I stood with the other team representatives and took a picture. We were going to Championships where we would join the top 600 teams from all over the country and the world and play Recycle Rush. Suddenly I had not graduated from the team just yet. My time in FIRST was not over.

Mentor Shawn VanNess holding the team’s Creativity Award during the 2015 Indiana State Competition

This is the second time our team has qualified for Championships. The first time was during our very first year when we won the Rookie All Star Award. We didn’t go then because the team was too small and it just wasn’t practical. Now, nine years later, that has all changed. It will take hard work and dedication to raise the money we need to even drive the team all the way to St. Louis, but it will be worth it. The FRC Championships will be the biggest thing to ever happen to this team and I can only be humbled at the opportunity I’ve been given to be part of it.

PhyXTGears getting another stack of 6!

When my friends and I were in our first years on the team, sitting on the bleachers at the Boilermaker Regional, Championships seemed like a distant dream. Now that dream is coming true and it just goes to show that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

~Ryan Spangler
Team 1720 Senior

Please consider helping us get to St. Louis. We have about a week to raise funding. Please click the PayPal button below or you may mail a check to PO Box 218, Muncie, Indiana 47308.

2015 Indiana FIRST District Championship and On to St. Louis?

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