The morning started with a 7:15 am bus ride to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The pits opened at 8:00 sharp, with an 8:30 break for the opening ceremonies. The judges, referees, and the Vice-Provost of the University of Northern Iowa were introduced along with the national anthems of Brazil, China, and United States being sung/performed to officially begin the competition.
Immediately following the Opening Ceremony, Qualification Match 1 commenced. By the end of today each team will have participated in seven out of their 10 allotted qualification matches. We were near the end of the match rotation so our day started out with us being in the middle of the pack. As the day progressed, our enormous effort and strong spirit payed off and we moved continually up the ranks.
The drive team, in between their many matches, took time to talk to pairs of judges that came around looking for a deeper view and understanding of our team. Our Safety Captain, Megan Larson, also took on a battery of questions from another Safety Inspector. Megan had a good experience the previous day with first-year inspectors. Today, however, the questions were more intense, coming from a veteran inspector.
Another crucial piece of our team, the scouts, kept their eye on the competition and their butts dutifully in their chairs the entire day. They watched, kept notes on, and analyzed 59 matches over the course of eight and a half hours of competition. Headed up by Brady Kilen and his trusty minion Kyle Stenberg (the analyzer/scout captain-in-training), the scout team put in a long day of work, but their true job will come into play tonight at the hotel, where they will compile a detailed list of the teams we would like to have and the teams we would prefer not to have on our final alliance see page. They pour over hundreds of scout reports. Let me show you the math. There are 53 teams at the regional and they will each have approximately 7 matches completed by the end of the day. Then add to it one pit-scout report for each time brings you to a grand total of 424 pieces of paper. These guys often work late into the night to get the best data possible put together for choosing our best options for alliance partners.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to all involved with making the event happen– judges, inspectors, volunteers, teams, coaches, mentors, and parents– without all of you, we would not be able to do all that we do and be all that we are. This team has made amazing leaps and bounds in its three years of existence. We are looked at with a respect that many teams older than us do not receive.
As I write this we are in the middle of planning and evaluating our options for tomorrow’s alliance selection. We look forward to the morning with a combination of excitement and nervousness. We are very much hoping to hold onto the first seed spot, but we like to live by the motto, “Hope and work for the best, plan for the worst.”
Thank you to all who follow our team and we look forward to bringing home a title and medals to share with our communities! Go Gators!