VEX Robotics Blog

Bellarmine VEX Tournament

whole team

On November 22nd and 23rd, all seven of Bellarmine’s teams competed at the Bellarmine Bay Area VEX Robotics tournament. Our teams played well during qualification and four of our teams made it to eliminations. 254A, as part of the 8th ranked alliance, faced the 1st ranked alliance in the quarterfinals and unfortunately lost. However, 254F, 254G, and 254E, as the 4th ranked alliance, decisively beat the 5th alliance in the quarterfinals and simultaneously scored 76 points, the most points in any of the matches of the event. The all-254 alliance then faced the top-seeded alliance in the semifinals, and lost the first match by only 3 points.

In the second and third matches of the semifinals, however, the all-Bellarmine alliance staged a comeback to win the next two matches against the 1st-ranked alliance, securing the semifinals and a place in the final round of eliminations. The all-254 alliance subsequently plowed through the finals, winning both matches against the 2nd-ranked alliance by margins of about 40 points each. This decisive tournament win added 254E and 254G to the list of Bellarmine teams headed to the California State Championships.

Additionally, our Bellarmine teams accounted for the top three Programming Skills scores and three of the top four Robot Skills scores. Notably, Team 254A placed first in both Skills Challenges. More importantly, 254B won the Excellence Award, the highest award given in VEX competition. The award recognizes teams for their overall excellence in their engineering process and robot design, for their performance in Skills Challenges and matches, and for outreach, teamwork, and sportsmanship. With this significant achievement 254B will also head to the California State Championship. In short, after just two tournaments, five Team 254 teams have qualified for the State Championship, of which two (A and F) have qualified through multiple tournament successes.

254B is led by Eric Van Lare and Jeffrey Kaufmann

254E is led by Louis Lin and Dorian Chan

254F is led by Nick Verducci and Nathan Rooke

254G is led by Eric Wang and Goutham Gnanasekeran

Congratulations to our teams, and we wish them luck at the State Championship in March!

VEX Tournament Map

The maps below show the tournament facilities located on the campus of Bellarmine College Preparatory. The red boxes denote campus parking, and the red lines show the best way to the parking spots. Green boxes identify the pits and blue lines show the best walkways to the pits. This PDF is a much larger version of the image below.
Map of tournament buildings

Team 254F and 254A win VEX Tournament

On Saturday, October 19th, all 7 of Team 254’s VEX Teams competed at the Dougherty Valley High School Robotics Tournament in San Ramon. Subteams A through G competed well during qualification matches. One of the most memorable highlights was that in the first match of the tournament when four 254 teams ended up in the same match! Teams F and G beat Teams D and B in match that was both extremely unlikely and unfortunate to watch as it put 2 of our teams behind right from the beginning.   Because the tournament was running late, they had to cut number of qualification matches from a scheduled 7 down to only 4.  However, most of our teams still did well. Team F went undefeated and was ranked second. Teams D, A, and B finished in 19th, 20th, and 21st place, respectively.

During alliance selection Team 254F picked the Team 21, the Spur Flies and later Team 254A. Team 254G was picked by fourth ranked 8000A and later allied with Team 6088. Team 254D and 254E were picked by Team 1868X, the Space Cookies. Finally, Team 254B was chosen by Team 21C and allied with 9378A.

In the elimination matches, Team G’s alliance defeated Team B in the quarterfinals, and the alliance of Team D and E was eliminated by the number 1 ranked alliance, 9378R, 8000B, and 8000C.  In the semifinals, Team F eliminated Team G.  Team 254F and 254A went on to the finals to play against the number one ranked alliance. After 2 stressful and intense matches, Team F and Team A managed to capitalize on robot failures of the opposing alliance and secure a victory! By being the champions of the tournament, Teams F and A are now qualified for the California State Championship in March.

VEX Championship



This past weekend, five of our VEX teams attended the VEX World Championships in Anaheim, California.

Our five teams were distributed among five separate divisions and played ten matches each. Qualification matches began on Thursday afternoon, continuing through all of Friday and concluding on Saturday morning. Our teams met varied levels of success during qualification matches; the level of competition at Worlds was incredibly high. When matches concluded on Saturday, team 254D ranked highest, seeding 16th with 7 wins, 2 losses, and one tie. They were also the only team to be selected for eliminations, which happened in the afternoon. In divisional quarterfinals, 254D, with the drive team of Eli Wu, Andrew Torrance and Goutham Gnanasekaran, faced off against top-ranked Fuxing High School and former world champions, Green Egg Robotics. They managed to win an incredible upset in the first quarterfinals match, but lost the second match and in a stroke of bad luck lost the tiebreaker match when one of their alliance robots fell over early in the match. Despite this setback, we are all proud of having made it so far at World Championships.

Team 254 also excelled off the competition field. We were recognized during the tournament for the website award, which we tied with Team 1114 for 1st place in the world. In addition, our mentor Pat Fairbank, who has worked tirelessly over the year to ensure the success of our VEX program, was recognized for his efforts by winning the Mentor of the Year award, becoming one of only 2 mentors from around the world to win the award this year.

Next years’ VEX game, named Toss Up, was also revealed at World Championships on Friday evening. Many of our team members have already gotten to work planning for this new game and thinking about possible designs for next season. The 2012-2013 VEX season has officially ended, but our team members are already eagerly looking forward to making the 2013-2014 season a great one for Team 254.

Team 254 Wins State Championships

This weekend our VEX teams had an excellent showing at the inaugural California State Championships, and ended up winning the tournament.

Five of our seven VEX teams attended State Championships: A, C, D, F, and G. The teams did well throughout the morning and noon in the qualification matches, with several great highlights throughout the day. For instance, C set the tournament high score, scoring 300 points in a single match; D won a 1 v 2 match alone when their alliance partner was disqualified; and D had the unique distinction of being the only team (out of 48) to go undefeated, earning a perfect 8-0 record and seeding first. In the afternoon, alliance selections happened and 4 of the 5 teams made it into eliminations. D, being first seed, was an alliance captain and chose as its partners 5369 (Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies) and 21C (SPUR-FLYS). C and F were both picked by 6A (Cyber Phoenix), while G was picked by 5327 A and C (Gael Force).



The afternoon was filled with exciting elimination matches. The C/F alliance lost in quarterfinals, while the G and D alliances each won semifinals to face each other in a Poof-on-Poof finals match. It was an exciting finals match indeed, going into a third tiebreaker match when each alliance won one round. Eventually, the D alliance pulled off the win, giving Team 254 the State Champion title, as well as qualifying 254D for World Championships.


Finals Match 1


Finals Match 2


Finals Match 3

In addition to winning the tournament, D also won the Amaze Award for their reliable performance and outstanding programming.

We are proud of our excellent performance at State, and the success has certainly prepared us for the upcoming World Championships.

VEX State, Day 1

Today was the first day of VEX State Championships, though no actual competition took place. Instead, today was a day for practicing alongside other teams and debugging any residual robot problems. We started the day by registering our teams and getting the robots inspected, thus saving us time tomorrow. Once that was done teams prcoeeded to test their robots on the 2 tournament practice fields, identifying and eliminating bugs along the way. We did this all afternoon (2:00 to 7:00), and it was certainly one of the most productive days we’ve had. Everybody has ironed out the kinks in their designs and we are looking forward to competing tomorrow.

A Weekend of VEX

This past weekend Team 254's seven VEX teams were split between two tournaments, one in Modesto and one in Los Angeles. Teams 254 A, C, and F went down to the CSUN Los Angeles Regional, while Teams 254 B, D, E, and G went to the Central Valley Sack Attack Tournament in Modesto. 254F became an alliance captain at Northridge, and 254E became a captain in Modesto. Every one of our VEX teams reached the elimination rounds for a second consecutive tournament, a fact which every 254 member should be very proud of.

In Northridge, C and F played against each other in one of the division finals, with F moving on to the tournament finals:

In Modesto, 254G went on to win the tournament along with their alliance partners 5327A and 5327C! 254D also posted an outstanding score of 206 in Robot Skills, which currently puts them in a tie for 17th in the world.

Congrats to the success of all our VEX teams this weekend after putting in hundreds of hours of hard work and commitment! These were the last two tournaments planned for Team 254 to attend until the VEX World Championships in April. However, with the recent unveiling of a California State Championship Tournament in March, Team 254 will be reevaluating our future plans for the robotics team as a whole for the coming semester. Currently Teams 254 A, C, F, and G are qualified to attend the first annual California State Championships.

Bellarmine VEX Results

Today's Bellarmine VEX tournament was one of the best-run ones in years, and to top it off two of our VEX teams won the tournament.


This was the only tournament this season in which all 7 254 teams were competing, and all of them did extremely well. 254C had an impressive undefeated (6-0-0) record in qualification matches and therefore seeded 1st. After them was 254D in the 6th seed, and rounding out the top 8 was 254F in the 8th seed.

Other 254 teams were scattered throughout the rankings, but that didn't matter because during alliance selections, all 7 teams either got to pick or were picked. As 1st seed, 254C got the first pick and chose 5369, the Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies from Challenger (which Abhi Kumar's little brother is on) as their 1st partner. Their 2nd alliance partner was our very own 254A.

Meanwhile, 254D was picked by the 5th seeded team, and 254F also got to pick a partner. This pushed 254B into a picking position, and they picked another 254 team, 254E, as their 1st partner and 254G as their second partner. Unfortunately, F and D had to face off in quarterfinals. F came out on top, so all teams except D got into semifinals.

In semifinals, the C/A alliance beat their opponents and moved forward, while the B/E/G alliance and F alliance were eliminated. C and A got to go to finals, squaring off against Oakland's 8000A and 8000B, who were allied with 6A. Things looked bleak when overheated VEXnet keys caused 5369 to lose connection in the first match, causing a loss. However, 254A pulled off an incredible comeback in the second match, descoring every point in our opponent's trough and leaving them only with floor tile goals, giving us the victory. 254C and 5369 then came together once more to beat the two 8000's in the third match, winning us the tournament.

It was an incredibly nail-biting finals round, and all members of the team, not just those on C and A, were extremely excited that 254 had taken back the Bellarmine title after losing it last year. All in all, it was an incredible weekend and an incredible comeback, and all of us are proud of our VEX teams.

San Ramon VEX Results

This Saturday, we had our first VEX tournament of the season at San Ramon. 6 of our teams (A-F) were present at the competition. Amazingly, all 6 of these teams got into elimination rounds. 3 of them were eliminated in quarterfinals, while the other 3 were eliminated in semifinals. So, while we did not win, we are proud of having gotten so many teams into elimination matches. Furthermore, the day provided several highlights. For instance, one qualification match saw 254F and 254E in the same alliance, and together they racked up an incredible score of 210 points. The video of this match is here:


Also, shortly thereafter, this happened:


That’s 2 of our teams, E and F, back to back on the top of the tournament ladder. Unfortunately, they later fell in the rankings but it was great while it lasted.

All 6 teams worked very hard at this tournament and did very well, if you weren’t there then please do congratulate them this week. We will now be looking forward to our next tournament, Bellarmine, which we are definitely aiming to win!

New Season Update

Already seven weeks into the start of the new school year, we have had many events, including workshops and team meetings, to kick off the new robotics season.


Our first mandatory meeting for the team was at the Introduction meeting, where all incoming freshmen, new members, and existing members were formally introduced to the leaders of Team 254 and students became familiar with the expectations for this new season. There was an outstanding attendance as over 130 interested participants registered for the team afterwards. We also held a parent meeting where we presented new information to parents and answered questions.

In the following week, we officially began the VEX season with our VEX Kickoff, where we introduced this year’s new game “Sack Attack” for those who have not seen it yet or were interested in participating in VEX this year. Jonathan Chang led the meeting and explained the design process each team must follow, along with safety regulations for Bellarmine’s new lab. New VEX teams were released and captains then led each sub-team to discuss game strategy and begin their brainstorming process.

Finally past the busy start of a new season, we smoothly transitioned into the Zero Robotics Kickoff led by Richard Lin, different workshops including Graphic design led by Kyle Schnoor and PR/Marketing led by Avery Strand, and VEX builds. Each VEX team presented their team’s robot design to the mentors, who gave their critique to each team, and teams now in the process of building each robot according to their CAD drawings. We have just begun registering teams for VEX tournaments, the first one already starting in October at San Ramon.

The mentors, leaders, and sub-captains are all looking forward to another great VEX season this year to follow up with last year’s excellent performance at the World Championships. As a reminder, you should still check the calendar often for meetings and lookout for upcoming workshops that interest you.

VEX Tournament Meeting

With the VEX season set to start Thursday, we can now begin to plan for the Bellarmine VEX Tournament in November. The first parent and volunteer meeting will occur within the next few weeks. The number of volunteers we get from this first meeting will determine how smoothly the ride will be all the way into November.


VEX Prototyping Session

This past Wednesday several of our VEX leaders, both captains and sub-captains, met in the old VEX lab for a prototyping session. The session was extremely productive; the VEX leaders each tried different approaches to intaking game objects, trying different construction methods to see what worked and what did not. The assigned captain/sub-captain pairs worked together to give each other inspiration and correct each others’ mistakes. While doing this, they took careful notes of what they tested, giving them something to work with when build starts as well as creating a foundation for the Design Notebooks which are so important for awards.

Upcoming Intro Meetings

There are two upcoming meetings introducing 254 robotics to potential recruits on the following days:

  • Wednesday August 22nd
  • Thursday August 23rd

At these meetings we will showcase our 2011-2012 basketball shooting robot Skyfire as well as give important information about the team.