The Ranney Robotics Team of Sandy Wilderotter ‘21 (Builder, Programmer, and Engineering Notebook), Alex Klatsky ‘19 (Builder, Programmer, and Scouting), Kevin Yu ‘19 (Driver and Head Builder), and Emerald Liu ‘21 (Programmer and Scouting) won the New Jersey State Championship at Cherry Hill High School East on Saturday, Feb. 23. The team becomes one of 580 from around the world to compete in this prestigious event – seven teams from New Jersey (out of 150 that competed in the state this year) are selected and the rest fill from the United States and 45 other countries.
About winning the State Championship, Alex said, “I’ve been in the robotics program for five years now. I’ve always been chasing a Vex State Championship. Winning this in my senior year means so much to me because of all the time I spent over the course of these five years working to this goal.”
“Just like any sport our main goal is to be the best team in the state and then more,” said Sandy. “The idea that we have become the number one team in New Jersey has begun to inspire us to improve and push us towards being the best team we can become. In robotics, you rebuild and create a better version of your robot after each competition. At the beginning of the season, we were not used to the new game. But after each competition we perfected and improved our robot. Because of this, we were able to come up with a design that is unique in the state of New Jersey. With the amount of time, effort, and testing we put into our robot I knew that it would pay off.”
Preparing for Worlds
After winning the state championship, Alex, Sandy, Emerald, and Kevin are next focused on Worlds, which will be held at Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky, April 24-27. The team will continue to develop the robot’s design, while continuing to study the designs of other robots from around the world.
“At World’s we will be competing against the very best,” said Alex. “We really think that we can compete with anyone in the world and our goal is to be the first Ranney School team to be World Champions.”
“We will compete against our generation’s most intelligent and skilled people,” said Sandy. “We believe that we are able to compete with any team in the world and our goal is to be the first Ranney Robotics team to win Worlds.”
Balancing a Full Schedule
The state championship win came on the same day that one member of the team – Alex Klatsky – also won a Shore Conference Tournament title with the boys’ basketball team. Klatsky is just one member of the foursome to excel both in robotics and athletics. Sandy was also chosen as All-Shore First Team after going undefeated at First Doubles in the 2018 fall season. Sandy paired up with Lexie Greenberg to win the Monmouth County First Doubles championship before advancing to the NJISAA Prep B Championships, where they defeated Gil St. Bernard’s, to add another trophy to the case.
Alex and Sandy have said that time management skills learned at Ranney are what make performing at a high level in multiple activities possible.
Each member of the robotics team spends at least eight hours a week working, but leading up to the State Championship, the team members put in 40 hours preparing for the competition.
“We are able to work during lunch and flex in school,” said Sandy. “But when Alex and I both have practices that end around 5 p.m., we have to stay at school working until around11:00 p.m. in the nights prior to our [robotics] competitions. We have to figure out a more efficient system of getting our homework done by managing our time throughout the day differently than most students. The teachers are all understanding and know our commitment to robotics and the sports we play and are always available to make sure we understand and comprehend the subject matters.”
“The most fulfilling aspect of competing in robotics is being able to come up with your own creation to solve a problem and be able to see your creation grow, develop, and succeed through the hard work our team puts in,” said Sandy.