LAHS Robotics Team gears up to go international


After winning at Arizona North Regionals, Team 114 will advance to international competition at FIRST Championship.

Team 114, better known to Los Altos High School as Eagle Strike, will be competing at an international tournament after winning first place at the Arizona North Regionals on Saturday, March 12. With this win, the team earned a bid to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Championship, an international tournament taking place in Houston, Texas, from Wednesday, April 20, to Saturday, April 23.  

This is the third time that the team will make an appearance at the FIRST Championship, qualifying for the tournament in both 2017 and 2019. In 2017, Team 114 placed 37th out of 67 teams, and in 2019, they emerged as semi-finalists.

From the beginning of the robotics season in January, Team 114 was given six weeks to design and build a robot before flying to Arizona to compete. During matches, teams form an alliance with two others. They face off against 3 opposing teams in the same arena and try to accumulate the most points within their own alliance.

Teams were given a game animation at the beginning of the robotics season, which outlined the playing field of the arena, along with points that robots would score when they completed a given task. This year, teams had to design a bot that would score points by carrying balls into a lower and upper ring of the goal and climbing on horizontal rungs to gain additional points. 

At its best, Team 114’s robot should complete all tasks given by the game animation.

However, this didn’t happen at the Arizona Regionals. Instead of going smoothly, the team faced sudden robot deaths and fouls from opponent teams.

“There were definitely a couple scares throughout the competition,” Team 114 co-captain Justin Chou, said. “There was a pretty blatant foul against us which ended up breaking a key component of our bot.” 

This meant that the team had to miss one of their playoff matches and call a time-out in order to “frantically slam stuff together,” in Justin’s words. Between matches, the bot was sent into the pits, where the rest of the team resides to fix any unit. 

Despite setbacks, Team 114 won the competition as well as the creativity award, along with their alliance members, 2122 Team Tators and 1726 N.E.R.D.S. The team’s victory was determined by their win in the last two final games, where their bots were able to score 74 and 52 points consecutively from climbing and making goals, while the two opposing alliances only secured 40 and 42 points.

For the international tournament, Team 114 aims to enhance their code. 

“Our code is really far behind because we pretty much only have two to three members on our code team whereas other teams have four members dedicated to one mechanism on the bot,” Justin said. “So they’re taking  a lot of stress.”

Even though stress may run high for many members, hope is still the overall sentiment regarding the upcoming tournament. 

“Our team has worked really hard to get to that point so it’s pretty awesome to see it all pay off,” Team 114 member sophomore Sophia Eckinger said. “The competition at [FIRST] Championship will be really difficult but I think just being there and competing with the other best teams is a huge accomplishment on its own.” Because Team 114 only made it to semi-finals in 2019, members hope to go much further this year.

“We like to think we’re the best [Team] 114, or the best version of the team we’ve had,” Justin said. “But, we’re still trying to prove it.”