SHEFFIELD -- On Saturday, March 16, the Mount Everett Robotics team competed against 28 other teams in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) State Championship at Bridgewater State University, and took home a first-place win.

There are 57 high school teams in the state competing in FTC. The 28 teams at Bridgewater on Saturday had all advanced through qualifying rounds held earlier this winter. Mount Everett qualified by winning the Middlesex Community College qualifier back on January 19.

The FIRST Tech Challenge this year is titled "Ring It Up." Robots need to remove plastic rings hanging on PVC pipes at the edge of the playing field and raise them up on to the scoring rack at the center of the field. The scoring rack has three different levels the rings can be placed on. The higher the robots are able to go, the more points they get.

Games are competed in alliances. Two teams form an alliance and compete against another alliance. Additionally, robots can earn more points for lifting their alliance partner before the end of regulation time.

Each of the 28 teams ran six preliminary rounds. Mount Everett finished those rounds at 5-1 and was seeded fifth going in to the playoffs. Mount Everett's team, nicknamed the Higgs Bots, teamed up with Team Immortalis from Pathfinder Vo-Tech in Palmer. The playoffs are competed in a best 2-out-of-3 format. The two teams swept through the semi-finals and finals winning both 2-0 and being crowned the 2012-13 Massachusetts FTC State Champions.

Unfortunately for the Higgs Bots, only the team that "captains" the alliance moves on to the FTC World Championship in St. Louis next month. Since Team Immortalis ranked higher than Higgs Bots after the preliminary rounds of play, they move on and the Higgs Bots season is over.

However, Mount Everett takes home a state championship trophy and medals for each player and mentor. All totaled, from their three competitions this year, the Higgs Bots compiled a record of 25-6-1. This is the fifth year Mount Everett has competed in FTC. No other schools in Berkshire County compete in in this high school robotics challenge.

The year's team members are Carina Alden, Jason Dagruel, Kosta Casivant, Max Lowenstein, Jake Christinat, and Justin Makuc. Team mentors are Chris Thompson, Paul O'Brien and Marvin Casivant. Team assistant is Nikos Casivant.

Additional information about FTC can be found at hwww.usfirst. org/roboticsprograms/ftc