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South robotics team finishes third in world
Seniors cap prep career with strong showing
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Forsyth County News

SOUTH FORSYTH — A team of three seniors from South Forsyth High School finished third at the VEX Robotics World Championship competition over the weekend in Anaheim, Calif.

It was the third and most successful trip to worlds for the team of 1961C, which includes Quintin Crist, Brian John and Blake Lafayette.

"To win a 100-team event of just normal, ordinary Georgia robots is quite an accomplishment, but to win a 100-team event of only those who have qualified to compete in the world championships that is a feat in and of itself,” said Nick Crowder, engineering teacher at South.

He added that the team at one point was “ranked No. 1 in the whole world just because of the strength of their schedule.”

Teams from Forsyth Central and North Forsyth high schools also competed at the world event, but only South advanced to the final round.

The competition began with five divisions of more than 100 teams each. The top team from each of the divisions then faced off, before the final two teams met for the world title.

The students from South worked together all four years of high school, making a different robot each year.

"Quintin made the 3D CAD model over the summer, so we knew it would actually work and so we were just able to build it and start driving it," John said. "We really haven't changed it much since then.”

The robots had to complete three physical tasks in this year's VEX challenge. Those included: taking small balls and putting them into tubes; moving 18-inch beach balls; and hanging from a 4-foot tall bar.

John said the group focused less on moving the beach balls and more on the other two tasks to allow the team to score higher points.

"It was our last chance, really, to go out there so we were really looking to perform well," John said. "It would have been fun to win the whole thing, but obviously, third place isn't bad.

“There is a lot of good, stiff competition there in the finals and we just weren't quite strong enough to win."

The third-place finish is just one more accomplishment for the students who this fall will be attending the engineering schools at Georgia Tech (Crist), University of Alabama at Huntsville (John) and University of California Berkley (Lafayette).

John said his work with the team has contributed to his goal of a career in aerospace work. While he would be interested in working in robotics at the college level, he said he's likely to focus on other ventures.

"There are other challenges for college," he said. "I'll be looking into them and seeing where there are new opportunities."