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Nevis robotics team wins conference championship

Nevis Robotics Team 3102 won the Northern Minnesota Conference Championship and the Spirit Award at competition in Alexandria on Oct. 28.

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Nevis Robotics team members and their mentors celebrated a conference championship Saturday. (front from left) Jasmine Walker, Natile Proffiit, Kiana Bjorkstrand, Caiden Carmicheal, and Bennett Bessler; (middle) Kendra Boushee, Kiera Dilworth, Noah Olson, Simon Hudrlik, Kay Netteberg, Aubrey Cappechi, Aleya Haar and Kara Carlson and (back) Olaf Netteberg, Tanner Miller, Kael Netteberg, Alex Grundeen, Jon Bjorkstrand and Dustin Wroolie.
Contributed / Kay Netteberg
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Olaf Netteberg is one of the team’s mentors. He credits teamwork and veteran driver Kiana Bjorkstrand’s drive experience for the win.

“It was a good day,” he said. “There were 24 teams competing in 30 qualification rounds. You get ranked and the top six teams become alliance captains. They choose two other teams to join them for their three on three competitions.”

Nevis was selected by the top rated alliance, Thunder Robotics team 876 out of Northwood, N.D.

“We were the first pick,” he said. “The third team in our alliance was Alexandria.”

There was a six-team, double-elimination playoff bracket. “Our alliance won and won and won,” he said.

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Netteberg said being part of an alliance teaches students important life skills.

“You’re negotiating and looking at strategies and identifying strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “You need to be flexible and overcome failure.”

Bjorkstrand, a junior, drove the robot.

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Kiana Bjorkstrand, at far right, was one of few women drivers at Saturday’s competition. She is pictured with co-driver Alex Grundeen, seen in the middle, who operates the ball tower and the climber.
Contributed / Kay Netteberg

“We are a very gender-balanced team,” Netteberg said. “That’s significant. Kiana was one of two female drivers out of the 24 drivers at this event. She has experience and is calm and confident. She just started robotics last year and is a leader on the team. Kiana makes good decisions and is methodical about scoring points. She was just awesome, very efficient. We’ve also been working on our robot this fall. It has competed many, many times and was starting to show some wear. We didn’t have any major breakdowns.”

There are about 25 students on this year’s team, but many of them were absent due to being in volleyball, cross-country and football competitions over the weekend. Others were absent because they were playing in the pep band.

“We had a real modified crew with 14 students,” he said. “I think only five of those students had ever seen a robotics event.”

Netteberg said the build team who invented and created all of the robot’s moving parts and programmed it also deserve credit for the win. This will be the robot’s last competition. Netteberg said they plan to keep the robot for demonstrations in the community. “It’s a fun one to let people drive,” he said.

The Tigers also won the Spirit Award at Saturday’s competition.

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“A lot of people think the Spirit Award is like a cheerleading award,” he said. “The Spirit Award is more about positive attitude, sportsmanship, being a good team player and role model. Being polite, ambitious yet courteous.”

Netteberg said sophomores make up a big chunk of this year’s team. “There are just a handful of juniors and seniors so the sophomores are taking on a leadership role,” he said.

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Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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