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Cerberus brings another state title to Triton Central

Keith Starost and members of Cerberus celebrate the team’s state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. It was Triton Central’s third consecutive state title.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

State champs.

It’s a designation the Triton Central High School robotics club could get used to.

Cerberus, one of four teams to qualify for the state tournament, gave the club its third consecutive state championship – and brought home additional banners to hang up in the robotics room.

The team, made up of Ben Wilfong, Reid Monhollen, Cole Earl and Ben Hahn, won the school’s third straight state title on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, as well as a robot skills championship.

Cerberus also brought home the Excellence Award. That award is given after teams submit an engineering notebook in which they provide updates throughout the year on design ideas and sketches, advisor Keith Starost said. The judges review the notebook and decide which teams to interview.

Cerberus was one of those teams interviewed, and afterward, team members told Starost it went very well. But they didn’t realize how well.

“They about freaked out,” he said of when they won the award. He added the club has won that award one other time. “We were in shock about that one. We definitely did not expect that one at all.”

Another shock came when Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology announced at the tournament that any member of a winning team and the winner of the Excellence Award could get a renewable $10,000 per year scholarship.

There are several members on the team considering the school in Terre Haute, Starost said, adding that the scholarship brings their desire to go to that school “much closer to reality.”

Wilfong is one of those students.

“That was the only thing he’s hesitated with,” Starost said. “Having that added financial system was huge. It was a huge surprise.”

The day didn’t all go smoothly.

The club lost a few early games “for silly reasons” and were somewhat disappointed heading into lunch.

That changed after lunch, when things turned for the better, he said.

Some opponents lost, meaning Triton Central was back in the running, and Cerberus was chosen by the top team during the alliance selection. The team overcame a crisis when one piece of the robot snapped in half and they had three minutes to fix it.

Starost said the club winning a third consecutive state championship is “pretty unreal.”

“I think we have had some amazing leadership and senior efficiency,” he said, noting Cerberus rebuilt its robot 10 times throughout the course of the year, fixing flaws to build a more efficient bot. “Now they have a pretty good shot at representing well at nationals and world. It was pretty nuts.”

The U.S. Open Robotics Championship is the next step for the club, and goes from April 5-7.

Three teams – Cerberus, Bow Tie Bot and surebreC – previously qualified. With the state championship, Cerberus has also qualified for the world championship April 25-28 in Louisville. By advancing to the semifinals at state, Bow Tie Bot also qualified.