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Top robotics rookies

Team 5299, Red Wing High School’s newly minted robotics team, brought home the Rookie All Star Award from members’ first competition in Duluth over the weekend. The award guarantees them a spot in the national competition April 24-26 in St. Louis. (photo courtesy of Don Fricke)

At the start of the year the members of Red Wing High School’s new robotics team were excited for the opportunity to build a robot and the chance to compete at regionals to round out their inaugural season.

The team’s goals included getting the robot moving, controlling it wirelessly and having fun, said Bennett Carson, the lead scout of the team.

“We certainly completed those,” he said. “As a team, it was easy to accomplish.”

Now, however, after the Lake Superior regional FIRST First Robotics Competition this past weekend in Duluth, the students of Team 5299, nicknamed Winger Tech, have their sights a little higher.

The team finished 23 out of 57 teams and brought home the Rookie All Star Award, one of three awards that comes with an invitation to the national competition in St. Louis the last weekend in April.

“It was just shocking,” first-year coach Don Fricke said.

Fricke said the atmosphere at the competition was electric and, after the first few rounds of competition, Red Wing was toward the top of the leaderboard.

“When we first came in on Thursday morning, we got there and we really had no idea what to expect,” said pit captain Jacob Langer.

The trip to nationals, however, is not a forgone conclusion.

One of the major issues facing Team 5299 is funding, Fricke said. The team was able to fund the $4,000 entry fee for regionals through hard work and generous donations from the Red Wing Shoe Foundation, Red Wing Public Schools and others, he added.

Finding the funding for the $5,000 entry fee for nationals, along with expenses for the trip, might prove to be difficult given the entry fee is due by April 11, Fricke said.

A chance to go to nationals is pretty rare, Fricke said, and the team is going to do what they can to get there.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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