North team wins Robotics National Championship

North High was crowned first place and the Grand Champion in the National Robotics League Championship held in Cleveland Ohio. On a mission to destroy other robots, the up to 15 lb. robots are often seen flying in the air after hits. Pictured are parent advisor Craig Brannon, and some of the team members Kevin Brannon, Brad Mahr, and Avery Peterson. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

What began as somewhat of a whim for North junior Kevin Brannon has turned into what is near an obsession. 

“I saw something on the Internet when I was just a kid,” he said. “And I thought, ‘Boy is that cool.’”

What he saw were some robots that were battling. From that experience, he became interested in the activity, and with the urging of his father, has developed into an avid robotic battle competitor.

His father, Craig Brannon, is an adviser to a group of North students who have become enthusiastic combative robotic builders and competitors.

Recently a group of six North students, Kevin Brannon, Michael Burg, Tyler Hamilton, Brad Mahr, Avery Peterson and Emma Thole, ventured to national competitions sponsored by the National Tooling and Machining Association held in Cleveland, Ohio.

“We entered the national competitions because we felt we had a chance to win,” explained Peterson. “We didn’t do well in regional competitions (held at the Mall of America). We had a flaw in our robot. Once we figured what was wrong and corrected it, we felt we had a good chance to do well in the national competitions.”

After entering the national competitions, the group of North High students spent 13 hours on the road to Cleveland to compete.

The object of the Combative Robotics competitions is knock out or “destroy” your opponents.

Building the robots that were used in the competition is a commitment that is a little out of the ordinary.

In addition to their regular schooling, Brannon was a member of the State Championship North boys soccer team.

Peterson is a shot put and discus throwing for this year’s North track and field team which recently claimed their 10th-straight Classic Suburban Conference title.

Brannon and Peterson explained that during the competitions, your team is judged on three aspects which consist of aggression, control and damage.

Each combative competition is three minutes long. There are three judges and each judges one of the three categories.

The North squad has entered into the national competitions for the past three years, and in the 2014 competitions they were going for an unprecedented three titles in a row.

The build up to the nationals were six monthly competitions held at Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, then the regional competition at the Mall of America.

The national competitions in Cleveland are the most grueling. The North team was pitted against 52 teams from throughout the country.

It took 13 hours total to complete the various battles, and finally it came down to two competitors who were out to destroy the other robot.

In the end, it was the North robot that won the battle and  was declared the National Champion for the third straight year.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at


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