Southland robotics teams make statement at state

Published 10:20 am Monday, March 4, 2024

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Several Southland robotics teams found themselves at the top of the state following the State VRC Vex Robotics Tournament, held Feb. 29-March 1 in St. Cloud.

All of the high school teams represented Southland strongly by placing fifth, seventh, 12th and 18th based on random pairings during qualification rounds. Due to selection rules, all teams allied with other teams going into bracket play, and battled back through some tough rounds.  The Rebelbots allied with a team from Albany and battled all the way to the championship round and were ranked third in MN State Skills by the end of the tournament. They also earned the judged Think Award based on programming. 

The Southbots, who already received a World Tournament qualification earlier this year at a Lambeau Field Signature Event, requalified with another solid performance bringing in the First Place Skills ranking, which is based on their individual robot driving and programming performance. 

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They made it to the semifinals in bracket play before barely being edged out by the eventual tournament champions. 

The Southbots are currently ranked 45th in the world for total Skills scores out of over 5,500 HS VRC competition teams, and their individual Drivers Skills score ties them for eighth place in the world. 

The Roverbots ended ranked seventh in Skills and also battled into the semifinals, where they were edged out by another Southland team. The youngest high school team, consisting of a ninth-graders and one eighth-grader, the Borderbots made it to bracket play, ranked 12th in the qualifying rounds, 18th in Skills, and earned the Design Award. 

All four high school teams have secured a spot for the World Championship in Dallas, Texas the end of April.

At the middle school level, the teams started out with some tough losses on Thursday night, but also worked hard and represented the area well by climbing their way back on Friday. 

The Gearbots, ranked third, the Skeeterbots ranked seventh, and the Boltbots ranked 23rd after the dust settled in the qualifying rounds. All of the teams also made it to bracket play. 

The Skeeterbots were knocked out in round of 16, as were the Boltbots as they faced the Gearbot alliance right away. The Gearbots, composed of sixth-graders and one seventh-grader, proceeded through tough play to be the Minnesota State Tournament champions and also earned the Top Excellence Award. They narrowly missed the triple crown by falling into second Place in the Minnesota State Skills Rankings by a small margin. 

They will be traveling to Worlds in April as well. 

The Boltbots placed third in Minnesota State Skills and earned the Design Award.

 Southland will be taking five teams to Worlds. They have put in hundreds of hours and many iterations to their robots to get to this level.

Southland Robotics Teams 2023-24 

High School Teams 


Wayland Gray – Captain Builder/Programmer 

Ben Waksdahl Driver/ Programmer 

Adelyn Kiefer Scouting/Eng. Notebook 

Abe Phillips Drive Team/CAD/Builder/Scouting Tempe Gray 


Luka Young – Captain Builder/Driver 

Kailey Nelsen Eng. Note/Scouting 

Micah Johnson Builder/Programmer 

Ben Nielsen Building 

Cameron Bryan Builder 


Cody Krull – Captain Builder/Drive Team/CAD Jack Bruggeman Builder/Drive Team 

Jessie Hanson Programmer/Scouting 

Ella Mensink Eng. Notebook/Scouting 


Kaden Helgeson – Captain Programmer/Driver/Builder Nolan Kiefer Builder/Drive Team/Repair 

Kevin Garey Programmer/Scouting 

Liliana Johnson Engineering Notebook 

Erika Hollerud Designing/Building/Programming

Middle School Teams 


James Heimer (8th) Building/Drive Team Zeke Phillips (8th) Eng. Notebook Isai Garcia-Mendoze-(8th) Captain Programmer 

Elliot Anderson-(8th) Captain CAD/Driver 

Paige Maly (7th) scout/online challenges Anaka Young (6th) scout/online challenges Aria Kellogg (6) Scouter/engineering notebook 


Jayvyn Hodnefield-(7th) Captain CAD/builder/driver Levi Phillips-(7th) builder/driver/program Leighton Wilde-(6th) builder/driver/program Shane Ruechel (6th) builder/driver/program Hartlin Hovland (6th) builder/driver/program Owen Harthan (6th) engineering notebook Maxwell Harthan (6th) engineering notebook 


Houston Hill (8th)- Captain Drive team/ Builder Alyssa Himebaugh-(8th) Captain Programmer 

Temperance Peters (7th) Builder/Engineering Notebook  Adam Heimer (6th) programmer 

James Maly (6th) 

Neveah Harper (6th) Engineering Notebook