Members of the Minneota Robotics team (Photo identifications located at bottom of the story.)The Minneota robot.

Robot takes Minneota to quarter-finals

For the first time since competing at the FIRST Robotics competition in Duluth seven years ago, the Minneota Robotics team qualified for the playoffs.

“They did really great,” said Coach Darren Clausen, who has been the Minneota Robotics coach since 2012.

“As a team, we've been getting better every year. To make it to the quarterfinals is something to be proud of.”

This year’s theme was Destination: Deep Space, with the competition being held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC).

After nine qualifying rounds, Minneota was sitting in fifth place among the 60 teams at the competition. The top eight teams based on points earned from the qualifying rounds throughout the day on Friday, as well as Saturday morning, advanced to the quarterfinals.

Minneota was defeated in best-of-three quarterfinals, winning the first match before succumbing in the next two. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the Minneota coaches and team members. “This is a one-class competition, too,” said Clausen.

“We were competing against some very big schools from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa, one school from Virginia, and even a team from Sweden.”

All 18 Minneota team members made the trip on Friday for the competition. The team didn't return to Minneota until Sunday; staying in Duluth an extra day because of the snowstorm.

Minneota had two drivers in the competition. Jaymes Moon was the driver of the robot, while Ryan Vlaminck was the arms/mechanism driver. Both are seniors.

Other team members were: Trevor Belaen, Jasmine Clark, Ty Lipinski, Nate Ludwikowski, Ashlynn Monnet, Zach Van Keulen, seniors; Tony DeSmet, Nolan Genzler, Mackenzie Vierstraete, juniors; Reid Fier, McKenzie Monnet, Logan Schuelke, Caleb Sterzinger, sophomores; Thomas Belaen, Elizabeth DeSmet, Emma Lipinski, freshmen.

Justin Buysse is in his first year as an assistant coach, while Jeff Van Keulen has been contributing for several years as a community volunteer.

Teams competing in FIRST Robotics receive kits at their school that contains some of the necessary pieces for building their robot for the challenge.

Photo of Robotics Team: Members of the Minneota Robotics team are: (front row, left to right) Reid Fier, McKenzie Monnet, Elizabeth DeSmet, Nate Ludwikowski, Trevor Belaen, Thomas Belaen, Jaymes Moon and Logan Schuelke. Back Row: Volunteer Jeff Van Keulen, Zach Van Keulen, Emma Lipinski, Ryan Vlaminck, Caleb Sterzinger, Ty Lipinski, MacKenzie Vierstraete, Nolan Genzler, Jasmine Clark, Tony DeSmet, Ashlynn Monnet, Coach Darren Clausen and Assistant Coach Justin Buysse.

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