Shelton High’s Gaelhawks robotics team, a staple at the World Championships, soared to new heights this past season.
The squad, comprised of some 40 students, were part of an alliance team that won its division then entered the Einstein competition, ultimately placing third overall in the world competition — the highest such finish for any Shelton High robotics team in the 21 years the "program has been in existence.
“It was just an amazing feeling,” said senior captain Sydney Youd about her team’s accomplishments at the championships held in Detroit in late April. “This is so rewarding. It is definitely satisfying to go out on a good note.”
Youd, who joined the robotics team as a junior, said this was perhaps the most challenging competition, considering that in the initial qualifying round, the Gaelhawks were in the Curie Division — one which Youd, her teammates and even adviser, SHS Athletic Director John Niski, agreed was the most difficult competition-wise in recent memory.
“This is ultimately is the best, final result,” said Niski. “Other years we’ve been close. Our team is also very, very competitive compared to other teams in here in New England. We do well at the district and New England level, but the last couple years, we have advanced to the world championship level.”
“We have a great team, a great group of mentors, an amazing robot that did everything we wanted it to do,” said Youd. “We’re just so excited as a team. The team had been to Worlds the past six years, so we did have the pressure of that streak to uphold.”
Shelton High was among more than 400 teams — from as far away as Canada, Israel and India to as close as New Jersey and some from right in Connecticut — with some 40,000 people in attendance. But Niski said his Gaelhawks never flinched at the magnitude of the scene.
“Our division was by far the most competitive … there were so many good teams,” said Niski. “We had good success in qualifying rounds and ended up being drafted by the No. 4 alliance to participate in a division tournament. Our alliance won our division tournament, something we had never done here.”