Team SCREAM Triumphs at 2024 FIRST Robotics World Championships

Smith-Cotton High School’s Team SCREAM emerged victorious at the 2024 FIRST Robotics World Championships held in Houston, Texas, over the weekend. The team became the first Missouri team to claim the FIRST world championship banner, according to a news release from the Sedalia School District. Team SCREAM’s journey to victory culminated in a thrilling showdown at the Einstein Field, where eight division champions vied for the title.

Team SCREAM's Road to Victory

Head coach Michael Wright watched proudly as Team SCREAM’s alliance secured the crown by going undefeated in the finals playoffs. The alliance was comprised of Orbit (Team 1690) from Israel, RoboLancers (Team 321) from Philadelphia, and 8-Bit (Team 9432) from Arizona. In a competition centered around the challenge dubbed Crescendo, where robots maneuvered to pick up foam rings for scoring, Team SCREAM’s alliance distinguished itself through a strategic defensive approach that disrupted opponents’ offensive plays.

The finals, which unfolded in a best two-of-three round, saw Team SCREAM’s alliance clinch the first match with a score of 119-99. The second match was fiercely contested, with the final outcome hanging in suspense until judges confirmed a narrow victory for Team SCREAM, with an official score of 123-120.

While the spotlight was on Team SCREAM’s triumph, their junior counterpart, Team SCREAM Jr., also left a mark, reaching the division finals in the Johnson Division. Wright lauded their remarkable journey, citing their growth and determination throughout the season.

Overcoming Challenges

Throughout the regional qualifying competitions, Team SCREAM had a series of difficulties. After winning at the Central Missouri Regional to earn their trip to the FIRST World Championships, SCREAM fell short at its next two regionals due to mechanical and electrical issues.

However, the team addressed every issue, ensuring the robot operated flawlessly throughout the event. Team SCREAM Captain Parker Ellison said, “Every time we ran into a problem, we worked hard to fix it. In our time between competitions, we didn’t rest. We identified our issues and found solutions. We always kept improving.”

During the competition in Houston, Team SCREAM’s drive team never looked at match statistics that provide the percentage of winning a match. Ellison said this was a departure from the regional events, where they obsessed over those reports. “When we went into the finals, we had no idea that statistically, we only had a 22 percent chance to win the match,” Ellison said. “We just kept our focus on maintaining our robot and playing our best.”

Welcome Home Rally

The victory was celebrated among Team SCREAM members and supporters, as they shared their accomplishment during a welcome home rally at Smith-Cotton High School Sunday night. The team’s bus arrived at 6:45 p.m. and was escorted up South 65 Highway by law enforcement, including Missouri State Highway Patrol, Sedalia Police, and Pettis County Deputies, and greeted by water sprays by three apparatus from Sedalia Fire Department.

Superintendent Dr. Todd Fraley, Head Coach Michael Wright, and several City and County officials congratulated the team, the first Missouri team to capture a FIRST world championship. Coach Wright expressed his pride in the team and the program, stating that this was something they had been working hard for many years.

A Bright Future for Team SCREAM

Coach Wright noted that the team is looking forward to defending their world championship title next season. “Not every team gets to end their season with a win, but since we’re world champs, we do, so this finalizes our season. We’re going to unpack our trailer, put stuff up, and we’re going to celebrate with a big banquet here in a week or so, and then we’re going to start planning for next year because we have a world championship to defend now,” Coach Wright concluded.

Rep. Brad Pollitt offered his congratulations to Team SCREAM and recalled that over a decade ago, a young man from Wellington applied for the position of robotics coach for a new program at Smith-Cotton. “We interviewed him and we decided he was going to take it to another level. We knew what the potential was. And he left us for a year, and then he called me and said, ‘I wanna come back because I miss the kids’ so we brought him back, and look what he’s done with the help of all the community and all these students,” Pollitt said.