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World Champions: Haslett 6th graders beat 1,600 high school, middle school teams for robotics title

Haslett Middle School students become World Champions
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT
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HASLETT, Mich. (WILX) - “World Champion” is the title only the best get to carry. In May, four middle school students from Haslett sure earned it.

When Haslett Middle School students Jake Acker, Conor Womboldt, Roman Gay and Nick Celeski started building their robots, they knew they were destined for greatness. They just didn’t know they’d be the best.

Acker said, “We started around in October, I think.”

For nearly seven months the foursome from the Haslett Robotics Team worked tirelessly, creating the drone to beat for the Aerial Drone Robotics World Championships in Dallas, Texas. They had to compete against some stiff competition, and going in they knew it.

Womboldt said, “You have to remember we’re flying against another team and most of the teams are high school, but we’re still just in sixth grade.”

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The boys would compete against more than 1,600 teams from around the world. First, they had to build the drones, and then they had to get them competition ready. That meant last-minute tweak of the guards that protected their drone from collision.

According to new champion Roman Gay they worked tirelessly, and when they failed; They tried again.

“We had to build a way to figure out how the guards could stay on,” he said. “It was also kind of like a learning experience to learn what not to do and learn what to do.” Jake Acker attributed much of their success for their strategy of gaining group agreement.

He said, “If we had disagreements we would try both of them and whatever worked better we would do, pretty much.” After months of trial and error, Nick Celeski said they knew when they had what they were trying to create.

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“It was just like a feeling,” Celeski said. “It’s hard to describe, but when it was finished we were just excited that it was finally completed for us.”

After completing their drone, It was competition time. The group headed to Dallas to fight for their spot on the top. Broken into teams of two, they still looked out for each other while competing.

Womboldt said, “If one of us is having a bad competition-- like I was in the first competition-- Nick flew for the finals because I was having a tough time flying.”

But eventually, they knew they had it in the bag.

“Once we won the first finals I kind of felt like we were going to win,” Gay said.

The team came out on top, being declared World Champions of Aerial Drone Robotics, and they say they have no plans of stopping there. The Robotic Championship Tournament was held in Dallas, Texas earlier this month but, thanks to the Haslett Robotics Team, the title resides in Michigan.

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