In The Schools

WHRHS Robotics Team Takes First Place in Montgomery, Qualifies for Regionals

WHRHS Robotics Team Takes First Place in Montgomery, Qualifies for Regionals
RoboWarriors teaching advisors: Daryn Mount, Chris Gibson and daughter Brianna, Pete Ponzio, and Mike Gangluff

MONTGOMERY, NJ - The WHRHS Robotics Team, the RoboWarriors, took first place in the FIRST Robotics Mid-Atlantic Montgomery Event last weekend after their three-team alliance marched through the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals without a loss to take first place honors. 

The Montgomery Event was the second competition for the RoboWarriors this year. In the first event in Mt. Olive on March 5 and 6, the team made it to the finals but lost in a very close tie-breaker to take second place. 

After their two outstanding performances in Mt. Olive and Montgomery, the RoboWarriors are ranked 21st in the Mid-Atlantic MAR Region out of 122 teams. Because of their high ranking, they have qualified to move onto the Regional Championship this coming week on April 14-16 at Lehigh University. A good showing there would send them to the ChampionshipEvent in St. Louis April 27-30. 

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This Montgomery Event was not easy for the RoboWarriors.

After the victory, WHRHS head teaching advisor Peter Ponzio had this to say. “The team advisors and WHRHS community are extremely proud of our team. It is not an easy task to fix a robot at these events. Little time is given between matches and it takes a collaborative effort to improve. Our students embraced the mindset and morale necessary to come back from a losing position, and it led to overwhelmingly positive results. They deserve every bit of recognition they are receiving from both district events.”

Team 41, as they are referred to within the FIRST Robotics Competition, had a difficult first day on Saturday. They had a number of technical glitches that had to be dealt with throughout the day, and thus did not score very well in the early qualification rounds. 

By the end of Saturday’s matches, they were ranked #33 out of 38 teams participating, so things were not looking good at that point. However, in classic “we can do this” spirit, the Team 41 students, advisors, and mentors used their determination and ingenuity to address the glitches and fine-tune the robot, so that it worked much better in Sunday’s continuing qualification matches. 

As a result, by the end of the qualification matches, they had moved up to #26 in the rankings.

In the playoff portion of the competition, the 8 top-ranked teams chose two other teams to join them to form a three-team alliance that then competes together throughout the playoff rounds.


The RoboWarriors were chosen by Team 5895, Peddie School Robotics, from Hightstown, along with Team 56, R.O.B.B.E., from neighboring Bound Brook. 

Using strategy and teamwork, the three teams won their best-of-three quarterfinal round with two straight wins, including a score of 199 points in the first match which was the highest score posted by any alliance in the entire competition. 


They then achieved another two straight wins in the semifinals and thus moved on to the finals. 

The excitement and tension was high for the finals as the two top alliances were introduced. Again using strategy and teamwork, Team 41’s alliance won their first match with a score of 155-139. With a “no second place this time” mindset after barely losing in the finals tie-breaker at Mt. Olive, the RoboWarriors alliance then won the second finals match convincingly with a score of 147-109 to give them the Montgomery championship.Team 41’s robot has a particular specialty that uses a catapult to shoot a boulder (foam ball) through a 7 foot high window to score points, and the robot did this very effectively in their march to victory. 

And of course it wasn’t just the robot, except maybe in “autonomous mode,” but rather the Team 41 students operating the robot, the “drive team” as it is called,who played  a key role in the victory.

And not only them, rather all of the other team members who each had their support roles and assignments, all working together to help make the robot succeed. It was a great day for the entire Watchung Hills Robotics Team as well as their families and friends, and lots of smiles and hugs were exchanged after the victory. The team deserves much credit for their hard work and determination to achieve victory on Sunday after having a tough first day Saturday.



The team photo shows the team after their win with their gold medals, first place trophy, and champion robot (The Black Panzer). The names of those pictured are:

Top Row (Left to Right): Matthew Battipaglia, Julian Bisci, Sean Coleman, Burcak Coskun, Griffith Humphrey, Nicole Regimbal, Sameer Howe, Eva Teplitsky, Oscar Johansson, Derek Prestera, Will Narayanan, John O'Mullan, Jonathan Soldan, Joshua Gallic, David Schlingloff, Brandon Harris, Hunter Yankelevich, Peter Ponzio, Kavin Elamurugan, Joshua Schmidt, Neelay Trivedi, Julian Lioanag, Anthony Rodrigues, Scott Galdos

Bottom Row (Left to Right): Prateek Humane, Matthew Guo, Diana Sarrico, Claire Barrameda, The Black Panzer, Odalys Barahona-Ordonez




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