Northern California Championships

Basilisks Sweep 2015 FTC Northern California Championships
Terra Nova (Basilisks, 6002) swept both the Inspire Award (overall winner) and were captains of the Winning Alliance at the 2015 FTC Northern California Championships.  This advances them to the Western US Championships in March.

 Match Record:

 1:  Win 642-172
 2:  Win 503-426
 3:  Win 695-305
 4:  Win 566-90
 5:  Lost 583-399
 6:  Win 574-487
 7:  Win 302-60
 8:  Lost 573-510
 9:  Win 635-140

 Lost in Quarterfinals
Compilation of Basilisks' Western US Championship Matches

Story Featured in Pacifica Tribune:
Many awards were arrayed on a display table during this past weekend's Northern California Robotics Championships, but two trophies towered above the others.  Terra Nova took home both.

Three weeks earlier, the Terra Nova Basilisks, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge team 6002, sailed through their qualifying tournament at Jefferson High School in Daly City, going undefeated against 27 other teams.  However, the championships were a different story.

FTC matches pair up teams into alliances that compete head-to-head, but each year the game changes, demanding new robot designs from previous years.  This year, robots have to pick baseball-and golf ball-sized wiffle balls from the floor and deposit them in rolling vertical tubes of four different heights.  The higher the tube, the more points are awarded to each scored ball.  The highest tube (four-foot) is fixed to a structure centered in the field and worth double the highest (three-foot) rolling goal.  Balls can only be scored in the highest goal autonomously at the beginning of a match and during its last half minute, making for last second drama.

The Basilisks got off to a shaky start, barely winning their first two matches.  Balls weren't consistently making it into goals, then falling back inside their robot to get jammed in their shooter.  This required a lengthy recovery routine, wasting precious match time. 

They jammed so badly at the end of their second match that both shooter motors burned out.  With a worst-case turnaround on their schedule, Fryslie and Snitovsky only had time to fully diagnose the problem before they were called up to the field for their next match.  They pulled the plugs on their motors, but were able to drag goals up a ramp for minor points and eke out another win.

After replacing their motors, Fryslie confessed that she was feeling the pressure of being undefeated all season, a record that increased to 14-0 after winning their fourth and fifth matches of the day.  As the only undefeated team, a win in their sixth and final qualifying match would guarantee them the number one seed going into alliance selection, where the four top teams in the two tournament divisions take turns selecting partners for the playoffs.  A loss would mean a drop to the fourth or fifth slot, and a tough road through the playoffs at best, and the potential of not being selected at all at worst.

Despite facing one of the best teams, the Basilisks had their best match of the day, and a close 248-224 victory.  However, there was no time to celebrate.  The remainder of the team had to be quickly debriefed by Terra Nova’s scouter, sophomore Sophia Shaw (15), who had been carefully documenting the performance of all the other teams throughout the tournament, before making their alliance selections.

Terra Nova invited Vulcan Robotics, FTC 8375, from San Mateo to be their primary alliance partner, but they declined, preferring instead to form what they believed to be a stronger alliance with Terra Nova’s former partner from the Jefferson tournament, the Fremont-based RoboKnights, FTC 5220.  The Basilisks then selected the Knights of Ni, Team 5206, from the Stanford University Online High School, and rounded out their alliance with the Enterprisers, FTC 5326, from Reno, Nevada.

Meanwhile, off to the side, team supporter Danny Fryslie (12) of Cabrillo Elementary School, happened to be looking down into his big sister’s robot and noticed something shiny in the bottom of their shooter.  It was a screw, one of the few redundant parts in their robot, and likely the cause of many of Terra Nova’s inconsistencies all day.  After bringing it to his big sister’s attention, she tipped it out, and walked their robot over to the playing field with a renewed confidence.

Both the Basilisk and Vulcan alliances dispatched their lower-seeded opponents by winning the first two of the best of three quarterfinals.  Then, in a decided upset, Terra Nova won both their first two matches against the heavily-favored Vulcan alliance, advancing them to the finals.

The Basilisks elected to partner with the Enterprisers, who could barely score but had proven themselves to be an exceptional defender, in the first finals match.  The Basilisks easily outscored their heavily defended opponents, but at a cost.  The Enterprisers had overdone it, twice, for two 50-point penalties and a loss by a mere 8 points.  This ended Terra Nova’s incredible 18-match winning streak.  Their opponents were now just one win away from becoming champions.

In the driver-controlled period of Finals Match 2 a field control error made the Knights of Ni robot drive into a wall, tip over and split apart.  Since this was not the fault of the team, game officials decided to replay the entire match and give the Knights of Ni five minutes to repair their robot.  Five minutes was only enough time for the Knights to remove their scorer (now neither of Terra Nova’s alliance partners could score balls) and get in starting position.  In the Autonomous portion of the match replay, the Basilisk robot was blocked by FTC 8367, but the Knights of Ni’s robot sat idle, allowing 7391 a free shot at a rolling goal and a 30 point lead going into the driver-controlled period.  Fortunately, the Knights could still manually drive their robot and did their best to defend, but it was not a fair fight.  With just 20 seconds remaining, Terra Nova’s opponents had stretched their lead to 190-60.  Snitovsky however, had moved into position at the lucrative center goal in possession of four large balls.  Fryslie let loose with the trigger, filling up the center goal for a dramatic win, and sending the finals to a third and deciding match.

In the autonomous portion of the last match of the tournament, the Enterprisers blocked their opponent from scoring, while Terra Nova sophomore Edward Finsness’s (16) pre-programming performed flawlessly for a 50-point lead.  The driver-control period stayed relatively even until both alliance captains lined up at the center goal and waited for the 30-second period that would determine which team would become Northern California Champion.  The Basilisks were ahead, but only held two balls.  Their opponents held four.  Then the worst happened, there was a horrible sound that could only be a motor breaking.  Snitovsky was sure it was their shooter motor and wanted to drive to the minor 10-point scoring area.  Fryslie wasn’t so sure.  It might have been their intake motor.  So she told Snitovsky to stay put and fired both balls into the center goal for 90 points, just as their opponents missed scoring all four balls.  The Basilisks were Champions.

The awards ceremony capped a glorious day for Terra Nova.  Junior Ashley Asaro (16) had spent the day staffing the team pit: managing the critical job of battery charging and talking to spectators and judges about their team and robot.  Largely as a result of her efforts, Terra Nova was awarded the tournament’s top prize, the Inspire Award, which FIRST recognizes as a higher achievement than even winning on the field.  It was the first sweep by a Northern California team in many years.

Conveniently for most Basilisks supporters, Terra Nova’s next competition is against the best 72 teams in the Western US, in Oakland, March 27-29.  It’s Terra Nova’s chance to advance to the World Championships for the sixth straight year.

Terra Nova Robotics is sponsored locally by the Sam Mazza Foundation, Rotary Club, and Kibblewhite Precision Machining who 3D printed the robot’s curved, shooter pipe from the student’s CAD model, the largest 3D printed part KPMI has ever produced.