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High School Drone Racers Win State Tournament Team Title

For the second straight year, students from St. Louis Park High School have captured the Minnesota State High School Drone Racing Tournament title, as the duo of senior Rafe Covin and junior Clayton Horstman Olson took first place in the team event on Sunday, May 17.

Junior Marcos Tapia Vizcarra and senior Will Schwietering also qualified and competed in the team event and placed fifth.

The individual state tournament was held on Saturday, May 16, where Covin placed second and Horstman Olson placed third. Both the individual and team tournaments were sponsored by Hydra FPV and broadcast live on Fox Sports North.

“I am so proud of the drone team – those that were able to qualify for the state tournament and those that participated with the team the whole year,” High School Teacher and Drone Team Advisor Mark Miller said. “They are proof that if you put in the time and push each other that everyone gets better and together we can do treat things.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s state tournament couldn’t be held live so pilots used simulators instead.

“We were scheduled for a live event in Mid-March the weekend after school was canceled and the organizers scrambled and figured out a way to do the races using the simulator,” Miller said. “They amazingly figured it out within a couple of days and got the races going. As the distance learning continued, they continued to hose races for local pilots as well as races for pilots from all over the world.”

Drone racing is growing sport not only in Minnesota, but around the world. After two high schools – St. Louis Park and Apple Valley – competed in the inaugural state tournament in the spring of 2019, more than 20 schools fielded teams this year.

“Drone racing is a perfect combination of science, technology, engineering and math. Pilots have to understand how all of these things play a role in how their drone flies,” Miller said “The best thing about flying a drone is that it is constantly changing and as a pilot you have to understand how everything works together to produce the outcome that you want – a fast and stable drone.”

Anyone interested in watching a replay of this year’s state tournament can do so on the Hydra FPV YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x38dTq2p5HI.