Music blared from the speakers as monstrous robots zoomed about a gray indoor sporting arena, effortlessly scooping up and rocketing red and blue balls through the air, into a futuristic basketball hoop.

It was Qualification 32 round of FIRST Robotics Smoky Mountain Regional competition inside the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena, and teenagers, including 20 students from 11 area school districts, cheered.

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