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Local student claims robotics championship honors

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Sam Ippolito, a sixth grader who is the son of Tony and Natalie Ippolito of Pipe Creek, was on a two-person team that qualified earlier this year for the 2020 VEX Robotics Competition World Championship and then claimed prizes when the championship moved to a virtual platform rather than being held live.

Sam Ippolito and fellow Crestmont Christian Preparatory School of Boerne student Josh Van Deest, an eighth grader who is the son of Kevin and Nancy Van Deest of Boerne, brought the honors home to the area, a news release from Crestmont Christian said.

It called the VEX championship the world’s largest robotics competition.

There were more than 6,800 teams worldwide in the competition sponsored by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, and 620 teams qualified, including Sam and Josh, for the world championship this year, but the competition was canceled amid fears of COVID-19.

However, officials later established a Virtual World Celebration and Competition by taking the top scores from the entire season for all of the qualified teams.

The virtual championship was streamed live on YouTube.

The results showed the Crestmont Christian team of Josh and Sam came in first place in the Research Division out of 89 teams and then in third place in the finals out of 620 teams, the Ippolito family said.

Sam Ippolito said when he first joined a school robotics club, there were not many other members.

“But I was dedicated, and I had fun, and that’s what got peoples’ attention. That’s what got Josh’s attention,” the Pipe Creek youngster said. “So, he asked me to be on his team, and without a doubt in my mind, I took the opportunity.”