Zionsville Community High School graduate helps Purdue robotics team win skills competition


For Purdue University sophomore Dominic Holifield and his robotics team, the long hours of practice paid off in a global competition.

Holifield, a 2020 Zionsville Community High School graduate, was a member of the BLRS2 team that came in first place in the skills competition at the 2022 VEX Robotics World Championship May 3-5 in Dallas. The BLRS2 team was a finalist in its division, tying for third place overall in the head-to-head competition. The other Purdue team, BLRS, came in seventh in skills and finished second in the head-to-head competition.

“Many, many, many hours of work were put into the building, programming, strategizing and driving practice for the robots,” Holifield said. “Many of the members had done robotics in high school and brought over that experience with them, allowing us to quickly accelerate all the processes and give us more time for testing and practice. We are also fortunate enough to have a team filled with passionate members to keep us going and strive for the best.”

Holifield’s BLRS2 team included Stephen Hohnholt of Carmel. Holifield said Hohnholt is originally from Tennessee but moved to Carmel the same year he started attending Purdue.

Holifield said the team hadn’t competed much the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So, we don’t have much to compare it to at the international level,” Holifield said. “We did compete in an alternate competition to the World Championship last year, which mainly consisted of teams from North America. At that competition, we finished as tournament finalists and won the skills competition. This puts us as back-to-back skills champions as well as back-to-back finalists, so we hope to take tournament champions next year.”

Holifield works on mechanics and software and drives one of the robots.

Holifield said skills is a separate portion of the competition, where individual teams try to score as many points as they can in a set amount of time. In addition, teams compete in head-to-head competition by first playing in qualification matches where teams are randomly paired, then teams are ranked based on their performance.

“Out of the two divisions, BLRS2 ranked fifth in one division, and our other team, BLRS, ranked first in the other division,” Holifield said. “From those rankings, a tournament bracket is played. BLRS2 made it to the finals but lost to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. The other team, BLRS, won their division but also ended up losing to (Wisconsin-Platteville) in the World finals.”