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First in-person robotics tournament during pandemic results in Sandy win at home

COURTESY PHOTO - Jeshua Milbradt, Madison Littlejohn, Lindsay Shupe and Chase Richards of the two award-winning Sandy robotics teams. Orion Skinner and Ava Barker not pictured. On March 20, Sandy High was granted the opportunity to host the first and only in-person robotics competition since the pandemic began. Sandy Team 1460S took first place on home turf.

Two Sandy teams competed against each other for the first-place trophy: 1460S and 1460K, but 1460S came out on top by six points. Members of Sandy Team 1460K received an award for excellence for their performance.

The tournament was much smaller than in typical years, with only 10 schools able to travel. Usually, events bring in about 64 teams. All teams were required to mask and socially distance.

"Robotics is a naturally socially distant sport in regard to how we compete, so it wasn't a huge change for students once they started competing," Aron Eslinger said. "The event had to be run with a limited number of volunteers, so I am grateful that our volunteers were willing to hold multiple roles. We also had no spectators, and each robotic team was only allowed two team members per robot. So, it was a much quieter event then what we are used to."

Regardless, Eslinger said: "It was great to have an in-person event and to put a bit of normalcy into this crazy year. The kids were excited and everyone enjoyed being able to interact with other teams."

The state competition on April 17 will be hosted virtually this year, so Eslinger said this in-person event at Sandy was important for the seniors on the teams to get a chance to compete live.

The Sandy teams that competed included:

n Team 1460S, composed of Chase Richardson and Orion Skinner, which won first place

n Team 1460K, composed of Madison Littlejohn, Jeshua Milbradt, Lindsay Shupe and Ava Barker, which won the excellence award.

"I have been nothing but proud of these kids throughout this whole situation," Eslinger said. "Team 1460S had a great shot at the end of the year last year to win a state title and compete well at worlds. They were in the top 100 teams in the world with their skill scores. 1460K was also positioned to compete well at the state tournament.

"Both teams took the cancellation with grace and pushed on to this year with a great attitude. They have been patient as we have learned a new way to compete. They have had the opportunity to compete virtually in skills competitions and also in live remote tournaments with students from around the world. They have continued to expand their skills and knowledge, and I am looking forward to watching them compete on April 17 at the virtual state skills championship."

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