LAWRENCE — It's every competitor's worst nightmare: Right before the big event, something malfunctions.
That's exactly what happened to the Lawrence High School Robotics Team, the Gearheadz, at a recent district competition. A major part of their robot broke and had to be replaced, seconds before their first match.
They won that match, but ended the day in 37th place. The second day of competition, they won their final three qualification matches, ending the qualification series in 21st place.
For the playoffs, the top eight teams choose two teams they have scouted and determined will be an asset going into finals as part of an alliance.
The Gearheadz were chosen to be a part of the first-seed alliance, along with a team from Maine and one from New Hampshire.
Combined, the Gearheadz alliance won every match of the best-of-three quarterfinals and semifinals, and ultimately won the final matches to become 2018 North Shore District Winners, the first time the Lawrence high robotics team has placed that high in the district competition. The Gearheadz robotics team competes in the New England FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) competition league, an enrichment program that works to inspire young people to be engaged in science and technology.
The Gearheadz are now in their 14th year, and this win cemented their first district event win in the team's history, according to co-advisor and Lawrence High School teacher Linette Heredia.
"I was sitting in the stands, as soon as they won, the kids erupted and jumped up and down," Heredia said. "The kids over the years worked very hard for this, we're glad we have the support of the administration, the superintendent, and the city as a whole."
Now, the team awaits word if they qualified for the New England District Championship at Boston University in April.