SAUK RAPIDS -- The state Vex Robotics championships are in St. Cloud next week and several central Minnesota teams will be competing.

Sauk Rapids-Rice high school has two teams competing at state. Senior Ethan Doering says they've been working on their robot since September.

We start with a rough design and gather a whole bunch of ideas and implement them throughout the year and go through many variations of our robot.

This year's state tournament challenge consists of placing as many rings as possible on several mobile goals within the required time limit.

Junior Charlie Peterson says while this isn't their first state competition and there is a lot of pressure to try and reach their ultimate goal.

We know we can do well but you can't let that pressure get the best of you. You need to figure out a way to stay calm and drown out the noise and excitement of the day.

Junior Ben Hinz is the teams programmer. He says because you can't use your computer on the playing field you have to be prepared for the unexpected.

I have to send our programming in before the game starts and hope it works. If it doesn't work I have to remember what happened and then bring it back to the test field to make the adjustments.

This is the largest robotics event in Minnesota, with 60 high school and 60 middle school teams hoping for a shot at the World Championships in May.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)
(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

Senior Tanner Janaszak his interest in robotics began in middle school.

I knew a few people in middle school who said it was fun. I was interested so I joined freshman year and just loved it.

Sophomore Sierra Kutzera is in her first season with the schools Vex program. She says joined because she wanted to do something different.

I thought it seemed really interested and I wanted something less physical,  compared to dance or color guard, to occupy my time.

Sauk Rapids has a history of making the state tournament. Adam Johnson is the teams coach and says he's proud to see how far the schools program has come.

The countless hours they dedicate to this, the support from the parents, the kids holding others accountable, it really takes a village and I'm happy to see where this program and has gone.

The state Vex Robotics tournament begins at 3:00 p.m. Thursday at the River's Edge Convention Center.

Other local teams competing include Kimball, Apollo, Tech, Sartell and Cold Spring.

Sauk Rapids-Rice Vex Robotics

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