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Wessington Springs Robotics Team places in top 15 at state tournament

WESSINGTON SPRINGS -- After finishing mid-pack at the state robotics tournament last year, the Wessington Springs Robotics Team took another step on Saturday.

Wessington Springs Robotics Team Co-Head Coach Alex Dean, left, directs the team on how to operate the robots' obstacle course Thursday night at Wessington Springs High School. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Wessington Springs Robotics Team Co-Head Coach Alex Dean, left, directs the team on how to operate the robots' obstacle course Thursday night at Wessington Springs High School. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

WESSINGTON SPRINGS - After finishing mid-pack at the state robotics tournament last year, the Wessington Springs Robotics Team took another step on Saturday.

At Saturday's competition at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, the team jumped out to a top-five start, moving into fourth place out of 36 teams after the first of three rounds. As the competition progressed, the team dropped in standings slightly, finishing 13th overall, according to the team's co-head coach James Kruse.

"We are a new and very young team, so I feel we had a good strong second season and we plan to be even better next year," Kruse said Monday.

The team, comprised of 10 fourth- through eighth-graders, allows students to use robots, made of Legos, as a learning tool by teaching students how to build and program robots to navigate through an obstacle course. The robotics program was created in Wessington Springs three years ago, but the team did not attend the state tournament in its first year.

Prior to the state and regional competitions, teams received an identical course to practice on, and at the state competition, the team was given two and a half minutes to program their robots and complete the course. The second half of the challenge involved solving a community problem related to the competition's theme - animals, this year - and give a presentation to the judges.

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Kruse said the team felt its presentation did well, but was not given official results in that category.

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