Robotics team goes to semi-finals of state competition, qualifies for Worlds


Justin Ansel ’20, Danny Seplow ’19, Coco Kaleel ’20 and Cameron Schiller ’19 discuss team strategies at the Southern California VEX Robotics Tournament Pomona. Credit: Coco Kaleel ’20

Luke Schneider

One of the school robotics teams qualified for the VEX World Tournament after cheating allegations made against them at the state competition were overturned Feb. 24, robotics coach Andrew Theiss said.

Subteams 62A, comprised of Cameron Schiller ’19, Miles Agus ’18 and DJ Lesh ’18, and 62K, comprised of Coco Kaleel ’20, Dean Rieter ’20 and Justin Ansell ’20, both qualified for the state tournament and traveled to Pomona to compete with other high school robotics teams.

Subteam 62K placed 15th at the competition after qualifying matches.

Subteam 62A made it to semifinals.

“Working for regionals is more of a testing ground because once you are qualified, it gives teams a way to practice for states and, eventually, worlds,” Agus said. “Our program doesn’t compete in Nationals, but we do compete in skills, for which we are ranked 42nd in the world.”

Following an inspection, the team made significant changes to their robot and changed their strategy, Theiss said.

This action was an explicit rule violation according to the VEX Robotics Competition game manual.
Kaleel said the allegations were not valid because they were not notified of the rule change.

“62A was complying with the rules to the full extent of their capacity,” Kaleel said. “However, in the middle of the tournament, the rule was changed internationally and we were not made aware, so later in the tournament, we were no longer in compliance.”

The teammates still stand by one another, Ansell said.

“I support [one of the accused students],” Ansell said. “I think that he was definitely [acting] within the rules.”

Following the allegations, an investigation took place that culminated in a response from the CEO of the parent company of VEX Robotics, Dan Mantz.

“After receiving a formal appeal, talking to many parties involved and reviewing with the GDC, we are reversing the disqualification and will immediately send an invitation to 62A to compete at the World Championship,” Mantz wrote.

The rest of the team will be able to support the three qualifying students at their next tournament from April 25-28 in Kentucky.