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.
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, finishing with silver and Ty Thurlow, Newport, taking 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, California; and Leighton Webb, Grand Island; took silver.
— In cybersecurity, Skyler Olson, Gayville, South Dakota, won gold, and Lucy Ann Podany, Stanton, placed with silver.
Other SkillsUSA gold medal winners from Northeast included:
Broadcast news production — Ervin Dohmen, Norfolk; Alexander Kasten, Brandon, South Dakota; 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, South Dakota. Information technology services — Vaughn Finkral, Norfolk. Internetworking — Luke Hobbs, Hoskins. Job skill demonstration — Austin Nachtman, Stuart. Masonry — Edward Olander, Winside. Robotics, urban search and 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 eiring — 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 canceled 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.”
As state champions, the 30 Northeast gold medal students have qualified for the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference Monday through Friday, June 20-24, in Atlanta. 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.
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.”