Decatur/Austin robotics team prepares for competition

The robotics team at Mentor Christian School headed to the National Competition in Denver

November 11 — Robotics team practice at Mentor Christian School has been more intense than usual lately, and for good reason.

“They’re in play now,” coach Ben Rogers said.

That’s because the team – made up of students from sixth to twelfth grade – is heading into the biggest stages.

The MCS robotics team participates in the Best Robotics competition and recently won a regional competition at Grove City College in Pennsylvania to advance to the National Championship in Denver in early December.

According to technical coach John Bradford, who helped found the team in 2017, this is the school’s first regional robotics tournament at Grove City College Center and they are trying to improve on last year’s second place in the national championship.

“We are very proud of this group and they have come a long way,” Bradford said. “They actually came up with better ideas than anything I had in mind.”

Team members include Kyle Walker, Brayden Gallagher, Freddy Kaia, Daniel Klinko, Elijah Harris, Andrea Klinko, Zachary Burmester, Amadeus Rogers, Matthew Klinko, Quinn Franz and Matthew Warner.

The robot that leads the students to perform the tasks assigned to them in the competition was designed from scratch and built by the students. It’s called “Skippy”. The field in which they have to work and perform tasks during competition is called ‘Sar’.

Kaiya is one of the drivers on the team that controls Skippy. He’s a first year student in the school and the team and enjoys the experience.

“It was definitely a surprise (at Grove City College) because we made it to the finals and got one of our broken arms, but we had one of our other drivers on tour where he got the highest score for the night,” Kaiya said.

Both Rogers and Bradford said the team members were very influential in writing the code and building the hardware from the ground up.

“We definitely have a few students who are more than able to write their own code,” Rogers said.

“We are very proud to win the players at Grove City. It is very competitive and produces some of the best teams in the country.”

Engineering, coding and math are things he’s always been interested in, Burmeister said, and he’s looking forward to seeing how he and his teammates do against the competition at the national level.

“All the players on the team come up with great ideas and work hard and I think we have a chance to make that happen along the way,” Burmeister said.

Rogers said the team prepares the Nationals by working on their equipment to make last-minute adjustments and practicing assigned tasks on the field, for which the team is given three minutes to complete.

“We know we only have a few weeks left so we have to ramp things up and do the last batch,” Rogers said.

This includes fundraising because the trip is not funded by competition, the Mentor Christian School team must secure money for the travel.

There are already sponsors that range from individuals to families to many local businesses, but the team is still looking for funds to help them travel to Denver for the national competition.

Any remaining funds will be used for next year’s competition team.

Donations of $500 local businesses will have their logo/name on next year’s team jersey.

Those with questions can contact Coach Benjamin Rogers at 440-901-9403 or

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