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Robotics team takes home highest award from world competition

Pronounce This competed against 830 teams and placed 13 overall. 
Team Prounounce This receives Excellence Award at world competition

The VEX robotics team, Pronounce This, from Longmont High School received the Excellence Award from the VEX World championship — the highest award given to a team. 

The four members of the the team, Abi Reichert, junior, Alex Dickhans, junior, Luke Hernandez, senior, and Carl Reichter, junior, have been together for three years. All the members of the team have participated in VEX robotics competitions since elementary school. 

A few months ago the team had to make a difficult decision: did they optimize their robot for competition or skills?

“It really came down to a design thing,” Reichert said. “Since there are so many types of competitions in VEX, it was a really tough decision to decide if we wanted to optimize for matches and go for winning the whole tournament or if we wanted to optimize for skills because they are just so vastly different areas of competition.”

The idea began as a joke among the team but as time passed, the group decided there wasn’t a reason not to try to do both. 

“We were able to optimize for both very effectively using a detachable shooter mechanism,” Dickhans said. 

Adding skills to their robot required an intense amount of time and effort, Dickhans said. He contributed over 100 hours himself to the endeavor. Everyone on the team said they were dedicated to doing well in robotics. They spent late nights and weekends to prepare for the competition. 

Each student came from a different elementary school in the district. Danny Hernandez, father and SVVSD drone pathway manager, said he helped to begin a robotics program at the elementary level to give his son something cool to do. Sitting around a table with other parents then, none of them dreamed their children would achieve so much. 

“Because those people [coaches and mentors] were willing to create a program at their schools to give all of these students and opportunity they all came to Westview … These four ended up at Longmont High … and that was the birth of Pronounce This,” Danny Hernandez said.  

The Excellence Award is given to the best all-around team at the competition. Teams have to qualify in the top 30% of qualification rankings, robot skills, autonomous skills and notebook and interview skills. 

In the skills category, the team ranked seventh, which allowed them to be in the top percentage the team needed to get the award, Dickhans said. 

Pronounce This competed against 830 teams and placed 13 overall. 

Dr. Don Haddad, SVVSD superintendent, met with the students on Monday to learn more about the competition and the students’ plans for the future. 

“I don’t even know where to begin with saying congratulations,” Haddad said. “It is off-the-charts amazing in terms of your achievement.”