NORFOLK, Neb. – Northeast Community College students captured a combined 56 medals in a competition that showcases the best career and technical education students in Nebraska. Northeast crowned 30 state champion gold medalists, 17 silver and nine bronze medalists and swept the medal platform in four categories at the 2022 SkillsUSA Nebraska State Leadership and Skills Conference in Grand Island.
In the competition, students in skilled and technical education science contests work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as automotive, building construction, computer-aided drafting, electronics, information technology, and welding. The philosophy of the championships is to reward students for excellence, involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers' needs.
More than 1,500 students across the state competed in more than 100 events.
Northeast Community College took the top three positions in several collegiate competitive categories.
Zachary Mosier, Strang, was named 2022 Nebraska State SkillsUSA Champion in (Auto) Collision Repair Technology, while Tory Halsey, Chambers, won Silver, and Ethan Engstrom, Genoa, took Bronze.
In Industrial Motor Control, Ethan Lavelle, Western, took Gold, Lance Borer, Columbus, earned Silver, and Tucker Schott, Gordon, was awarded the Bronze medal.
In Welding, Northeast finished with the top three positions with Hunter Howard, Meadow Grove, taking Gold, Ryan Mosier, Aurora, finished with Silver, and Ty Thurlow, Newport, took Bronze.
Two-person team members from Northeast earned gold, silver and bronze medals in Mechatronics. Devon Unseld, Pierce, and Nicholas Frisch, Newman Grove, claimed first followed by Cade Welsh, Ceresco, and Jakob Meier, Pierce, who took second and Benjamin Kment, David City, and Luke Reinke, Edgar, were third.
Other Northeast students finished first and second in five other competitions.
In Agriculture – Diesel, Brayden Rabbass, Norfolk, won Gold. Taylor Matson, Gretna, took Silver.
In Architectural Drafting, Tyler Earnest, Grand Island, won Gold with Jaydn Weber, Norfolk, earning Silver.
In Automotive Refinishing Technology, Preston Paulson, Wayne, claimed Gold with Parker Paulson, Wayne, winning Silver.
In Crime Scene Investigation, the team of Jake Bartosh, Arlington, Ryen Haines, Ansley, and Isaias Juarez, Neligh, won Gold, while Jasmine Ostolaza, Norfolk, Yvette Mendoza, El Centro, Calif., and Leighton Webb, Grand Island, took Silver.
In Cybersecurity, Skyler Olson, Gayville, So. Dak., won Gold and Lucy Ann Podany, Stanton, placed with Silver.
Other SkillsUSA Gold medal winners from Northeast include:
Broadcast News Production – Ervin Dohmen, Norfolk, Alexander Kasten, Brandon, So. Dak., Conner Luebbe, Garland, Christopher Thiem, Norfolk.
Building Construction TeamWorks (carpentry, electrical and plumbing) – Landon Bignell, Columbus, Kolby Dean, O'Neill, Aaron Disher, West Point, Cooper Hilgenkamp, Arlington.
Carpentry – Weston Haskell, Ainsworth.
Electrical Construction Wiring – Dean Orwig, Pierce.
HVACR (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration) – Brodie Christensen, Yankton, So. Dak.
Information Technology Services – Vaughn Finkral, Norfolk.
Internetworking – Luke Hobbs, Hoskins.
Job Skill Demonstration – Austin Nachtman, Stuart.
Masonry – Edward Olander, Winside.
Robotics: Urban Search & Rescue – Garrett Henery, Norfolk, Tielan Kotrous, Norfolk.
Technical Computer Applications – Nicholas Wood, Bertrand.
SkillsUSA Silver medal winners from Northeast include:
Automotive Service Technology – Christian Corrales, West Point.
Technical Drafting – Braxton Bargmann, Lyons.
Welding Fabrication – Landon Owens, Bennington, Julio Tellez, Plainview, Will Vanderheiden, Norfolk.
SkillsUSA Bronze medal winners from Northeast include:
Automotive Service Technology – Keaton Backhaus, Randolph.
Digital Cinema Production – Clint Oldehoeft, Exeter, Zane Thompson, Anselmo.
Electrical Construction Wiring – Wyatt Wiemer, Herman.
Dr. Wade Herley, dean of business and humanities and SkillsUSA coordinator at Northeast, said this was the first year since 2019 that the students faced competition face-to-face. The state event was cancelled in 2020 and held virtually last year.
“2019 was the year we set a record with 51 total medals. It was a record I expected to stand for a long time, and it was a record that fell in 2022,” he said. “The team and their advisors did a tremendous job of preparing for the state competition. I expect our team to do well every year, but I did not expect us to beat our record by five medals and bring home 56.”
Herley is proud of what the SkillsUSA team has accomplished this year. He said it is a direct reflection of the programs that have been built with hard work and dedication by Northeast faculty.
“If this is our future workforce for northeast Nebraska, then the future is very bright,” Herley said. “I can hardly wait to get to Atlanta and put our students against the best of the best in the nation.”
Joining Herley in attending the competition and serving as advisors to the students were Brian Anderson (Media Arts-Broadcasting), Paul Bailey (HVAC), Dave Beaudette (Auto Body Technology), Curtis Brandt (Building Construction), Richard Chrisman (Information Technology), Kris Coan (Information Technology), Drew Dolezal (Media Arts), Craig Evans (Diesel Technology), Ryan Hobza (Building Construction), Anthony Hoffman (Electrical Construction & Control), Michael Holcomb (Drafting), Tom Hoile (Auto Body Technology), Aaron Johnson (Information Technology), Travis Kaup (Diesel Technology), John Knapp (Welding), Gene Kumm (Electrical Construction & Control), Jonathan Lance (Diesel Technology), Matthew McCarthy (Criminal Justice), Michael McCarthy (Welding), Tony Milenkovich (Diesel Technology), John Nelson (HVAC), Bowdie Otte (Automotive Technology), Joe Ottis (Automotive Technology), Brian Rastede (Electrical Construction & Control), Eric Roskeland (Electromechanical Technology), Eric Ternus (Drafting), Brad Vogt (Information Technology), and Kenny Wurdinger (Information Technology). Shanelle Grudzinski, dean of applied technology, and Brad Ranslem, associate dean of applied technology, also assisted.
As state champions, the 30 Northeast gold medal students have qualified for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference to be held June 20-24, in Atlanta, Ga. More than 6,500 career and technical education students - all state contest winners - will compete hands-on in 108 different trade, technical and leadership fields.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. The organization serves middle school, high school and college students in programs in preparing them for technical, skilled and service careers. It was originally founded as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America in 1965. In 2004, the name was c hanged to SkillsUSA. Since 1965, the organization has served more than 13.5 million members. SkillsUSA enhances the lives and careers of students, instructors and industry representatives as they strive to be champions at work.
Northeast Community College students compete in a Mechatronics competition during the 2022 SkillsUSA Nebraska State Leadership and Skills Conference in Grand Island. Two-person team members from the College were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals in the category. Northeast earned a total of 56 medals, 30 gold at the event that features students in skilled and technical education science contests working against the clock and each other in a variety of occupational competitions. Gold medalists move on to the national SkillsUSA contest.