Eagle River robotics team wins state championship

Friday, February 15, 2019 - 12:45
  • High school students compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge Alaska state championship at the Wells Fargo Center in Anchorage. A team of Eagle River students won the state competition, the school’s fourth championship in the last six years. (Photo courtesy Matthew Prnka)

A team of students from Eagle River High School claimed a state robotics championship Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Wells Fargo Center in Anchorage.

The school’s “Phantom Wolves” team of Andre Gutierrez, Samantha Gutierrez, Gage Cullings, Sophia Padilla, Isaac Jennings and Tyler Jennings combined with a squad of robot builders from Thunder Mountain High to claim first place at the Alaska FIRST Tech Challenge state championship. The victory was the first for the Phantom Wolves and the fourth for an Eagle River team in the past six years.

The winning team formed an alliance during the elimination rounds of the tournament, said coach Matthew Prnka. The Phantom Wolves also won the competition’s Think Award (best engineering notebook) and the Promote Award for creating the most compelling one-minute video public service announcement promoting science, technology, engineering and math.

Three teams competed this year from Eagle River, including the Nuclear Wolves and the Cyber Wolves (Lilly Pixley, Orry Snyder and Ethan Hudson).

The Nuclear Wolves team of Keith Sellers, Hunter Penax, Carter Penaz, Sebastian Tunley, Mark von Luhrte and Greg Talotta finished second in the Promote Award competition and won the Connect Award for being the team that most “aggressively seeks and recruits engineers and explores the opportunities available in the world of engineering, science and technology. The Nuclear Wolves also took third in the Inspire Award competition, which is judged on which teams best embody the “challenge” of the FIRST Tech Challenge program.

Unfortunately for the local team, only the Thunder Mountain team will advance to the FIRST Regionals in Washington. According to team coach Matthew Prnka, only the alliance captains advance to Regionals. This is the first time in four years an Eagle River team has not advanced to the Regional or World finals.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify that the Phantom Wolves will not travel to the regional competition.

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