I am at home enjoying the first calm night I’ve had in well over a week. The Palmetto Regional is a ridiculously large undertaking in any year, and the lack of bag day has made it marginally more ridiculous. And along the way, a few people deserve a high-five.
So first, congratulations to 8137, the Byting Bulldogs, for being the first Rookie All-Star to hail from South Carolina since 2017. We’ve got some experience working with them, as the team borrowed last year’s Pandamaniacs robot to compete at SCRIW before joining us for the Quick Build we hosted at Kickoff. They were the only rookies in Myrtle Beach this weekend, but I know the Palmetto judges have withheld RAS in the past (as they did in 2018). They’ve got a great group of students, leaders that are really building the hype for the program, and if there is any justice in this world they’ll be in Houston.
And on the topic of personal history, congratulations to Aaron Bongiorno from 3489 on his Dean’s List Finalist win. I knew his mother (Faith, former FSM and current FIRST education staffer) and offhand suggested that she ought to join us at Fight Night in Kokomo last summer. Little did I realize how nuts she is (in the best possible way), and her kids and some Category 5 teammates took the bait. I ended up being pit neighbors with Goin’ Coastal, a shell spinner which had a pretty astounding quarterfinal run that only petered out when encountering the eventual champ. With my robot junked after the second fight (thanks @NathanNFM…), I wound up just hanging around and helping with whatever parts or tools were in the suitcase. Despite smoking weapon motors and other bumps along the way, he and the whole crew stayed totally relaxed and had more fun than a lot of people probably did. Kid’s going places, y’all.
(Also congratulations to Ria Nayar from 1369 who is surely just as deserving but I don’t have a personal anecdote on. )
Round of applause to 694 for an undefeated run. I’ll always be happier for the local teams to do well at home, but dominance must be honored. Our scouting showed the average team doing 23.25 points per match in quals, ignoring balances. StuyPulse was doing 71.61, more than triple that…and they still had the #3 balance rate at the event. Further congrats to their partners 4020 and 1758, the former joining the small club of back-to-back Palmetto winners and the latter hanging their first blue banner since 2008.
Also congrats to 3824 on their Regional Chairman’s Award. Smoky Mountain will be burning wild cards left and right at this rate.
Personal shoutout to 4451, who had the most snakebitten qualifications run I’ve ever seen. At one point, they were down in the 40s despite consistently being one of the top 5 scorers. It was great to see them rally back and make a strong semifinal run.
Thank you to 283 and 6693 for joining us on scouting this weekend. It’s a lot to do, and with only 11 kids on this trip we needed the extra eyes badly. I hope it was as useful to them as it was to us!
Thank you to 1708 for giving us our first-ever first-round pick (this is our 17th year, for those keeping score) and 3492 for joining us. Our goose was probably cooked with the 1708 climber failure, but that’s just how the game goes sometimes. We’ll see the latter again in Knoxville.
And lastly, I have to thank my fellow Pandamaniacs. Monday night, this robot was an absolute basket case–especially on wiring. It took a lot of the three days following (Thursday included) to get to the bottom of it all, but we made the most of most of our opportunities and made the 34th-highest-scoring robot in the field seed 8th. We’ll get them at Smoky!