Raider Robotix team continues its winning streak

Originally published on the front page of The Sentinel April 26, 2012. While the link lasts, you can see the article on their site.

Raider Robotix team continues its winning streak
Team 25 heads to world competitions this weekend in St. Louis
by Jennifer Amato, Staff Writer

Attempts to climb

The Raider Team 25 robot attempts to climb up to get a basketball during the District Championship game at Mount Olive High School earlier this month. Last week the North Brunswick Township High School team placed first in the Mid-Atlantic regional. They will now travel to St. Louis for the world championships this weekend. PHOTO COURTESY OF DAMIAN PLAVNICKY

The North Brunswick Township High School Raider Robotix Team 25 won the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship on April 15.

During that weekend, 54 teams competed at Temple University in Philadelphia in the “Rebound Rumble” event. Three teams on two alliances had to shoot a basketball into a hoop for points; the top basket was three points, the middle basket was two points, and the bottom one was worth one point.

There were also points awarded for stacking robots of the opposing alliance onto a coopitition (cooperation despite competition) bridge in the middle of the field. The bridge could fit only two robots, but Team 25 was able to stack three robots five out of six times; the sixth time, they were illegally blocked by another team.

“It only took us about seven seconds to balance three robots. It took everyone else 15 to 20 seconds — if they [even could],” said pit crew member Tori Schamper.


The Raider Team 25 robot shoots a basketball into the basket during the District Championship game at Mount Olive High School. PHOTO COURTESY OF RICK PLAVNICKY

The team had to win two out of three finals matches to be considered the champions. They won the first game by a score of 100 to 57, and the second game by a score of 78 to 65.

In general, the team averaged more than 100 points per game throughout the entire competition. They also reached the highest unpenalized score in the nation, according to programmer and driver Michelle Wong.

They also had the second-highest scoring robot throughout the competition, according to pit crew and drive team member Joey Ikuss.

However, the season started out questionably. Since funding is down, team members had to travel to Kintnersville, Pa., for about six weekends to work with the Cybersonics team to build the robot.

The twinbots have their own individual modifications, which they built and tested in a barn outside the school.

“I think our robots do so well because we plan every part to make sure they fit together. It’s no guessing,” Schamper said.

This partnership helped North Brunswick even further because when their robot had a broken gear on the shooter mechanism, members of Team 103 brought a replacement part the next day.

“It’s interesting because we have a more successful team wins-wise … but they’re a Hall of Fame team,” said build and pit crew captain Tommy Ikuss, who is Joey’s brother. “They won the Chairman’s Award at a national competition [in 2004], which is the highest award.” Tommy Ikuss called them a “model team,” speaking very highly about the Cybersonics.

Besides doing so well in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, Team 25 won the Mount Olive FIRST Robotics District Competition in Flanders on April 1 in the final match by just one point in a “buzzer beater” at the very last second.

At the end of March, Team 25 competed in the Lenape District Event before moving to the quarterfinals as one of the top eight teams out of 42. From March 8-10, the team competed in the Orlando Regional at the University of Central Florida and was also selected to move on to the quarterfinals in an alliance with a top-seeded team.

Schamper and Tommy Ikuss both said that the team has continued to do well during the season — and has consistently done so over the past few years — because of the coaches, mentors and machinists who are involved.

“I’m very proud of them,” said Coach Wayne Cokeley. “It was a tough beginning of the season, but they pulled through really well.”

Team 25 will now advance to the world championships this weekend in St. Louis.

“This is truly the only varsity sport of the mind,” Tommy Ikuss said. “We still have the competitive side and the emotional side and you go for championships, but at the same time you have to have a scientist’s mind and think critically.”

Because travel and registration can cost up to $5,000 per event, students are fundraising by collecting shoes that will be shipped to Third World countries by Shoebox Recycling, which will pay the team 50 cents per pound. Donations can be dropped off at the high school, located at 98 Raider Road.

Also, a fundraising comedy basketball game against the Harlem Rockets will be held at 7 p.m. May 11 at the high school. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 at the door. To purchase tickets, email

In addition, American Harvest on Route 130 donated part of their proceeds from all sales the weekend of April 21 and 22 to the team.

Anyone wishing to help defray funds with a monetary donation can email

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