Nevis Team 3102 stepping up their game before heading to Iowa

Arkansas competition highlighted team’s strengths and weaknesses

Pit crew members Blake Kowalke, Will Gagnon, Alex Grundeen, Ella Marotte and JT Gagnon gained experience at the Arkansas regional event. The team is now working to improve their robot’s performance heading into the Iowa regional competition later this month.
Contributed / Kay Netteberg

The Nevis Techno-Tigers robotics team 3102 came away from the Arkansas Robotics Regional Event March 3-7 with an 11 out of 29 ranking after losing to the top alliance in the first round of the semi-finals. Nevis also lost its second semi-final round.

Only the top three teams in the winning alliance earn the coveted trip to the FIRST Robotics Worlds competition in Houston, Texas in April.

“The alliance that won it all is the alliance we faced in our first round of playoffs and lost to,” mentor Olaf Netteberg said. “There’s no shame in getting beat by the team that goes on to win the whole show.”

Netteberg said finishing in the top half at a regional event is still an accomplishment his team can be proud of.

The Nevis robotics team completed this triple climb at regionals in Arkansas with the 7th seed alliance team which also included Lakota Robotics of Ohio and the FA Vikings from Tennessee.
Contributed / Kay Netteberg


“And the networking component at an event like this is huge,” he said.

The Nevis team brought 19 students and competed in a total of 12 matches, ending the event with a 6-6 record.

The Nevis robotics team returned from competition at regionals in Arkansas with plans to improve their robot's gripping mechanism before heading to Iowa for their next regional competition in two weeks.
Contributed / Kay Netteberg

Nevis was the only Minnesota team in attendance as well as one of the smallest teams. Other teams attending came from Ohio, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Louisiana.

“It’s more than robots,” Netteberg said. “We talked about how we would be representing not just Nevis, but also the state of Minnesota.

This was the first official competition for the Nevis team in the 2023 FIRST robotics challenge “Charged Up.”

“The game is essentially to transport small road cones and place them on a peg as many times as possible to earn points,” he said. “Instead of picking them off the field, the majority of teams went to a human lift station.”

Teams that were faster had an advantage because they could quickly move to where a person was placing cones to be picked up.


There were also inflatable cubes that bounced around that needed to be picked up to score points.

During the next two weeks, the Nevis team will be working on redesigning a new piece of equipment to pick up both cones and cubes more quickly before heading to the regional competition March 22-26 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“Manipulating and handling game pieces was our weakness,” he said. “We have a couple weeks to redesign and rebuild our gripping mechanism for game pieces. We have a pincher and need to find a way to speed up our game piece acquisition.”

Team members were already brainstorming possible ways to accomplish this task.

“We need to create a hybrid of ideas that fits onto our robot,” he said. “We’re not going to start from ground zero. Our design build team and our scouting team that keeps data on every single match will be strategizing. The amount of a compression a cone and cube requires are widely different so you have to design something that works for both. This is a real engineering challenge.”

Netteberg said the element of the game that Nevis did the best at was balancing their robot on a board similar to a teeter-totter, with the ultimate goal to have three robots balancing on the board at the same time. “Around 80% of the time we succeeded,” he said.

Mentoring a brand new team from Memphis at the event was another accomplishment for the team.

“Our students gave them advice and put them under their wings,” he said. Their robot was a simple driving chassis, but their driver was so effective at zipping in on defense and pushing game pieces away before the other team could pick them up or bump into their robot to make it change directions. Our scout and drive team both noticed it. That Memphis rookie team was a crowd favorite.”


When it came time for Nevis to pick their alliance, they chose that Memphis team as one of its members.

“We invited that team of eight kids from an academy in Memphis to join us in our alliance,” he said. “Afterwards, we all had lunch together. We’ve made lifelong friends with them. We are in our 15th season and they haven’t even been doing robotics for 15 months. So we’re paying it forward.”

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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