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LCTC student wins welding competition

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Three LeCroy Career Technical Center welding students recently competed in the Tulsa Welding School Senior Competition in Jacksonville with Jacob Easterling taking the top prize.

“I didn’t really think I had that big of a chance because I had never competed against that many people before,” Easterling said.

The largest competition he had been a part of previously was against 40 or so people.

“Once I got down, there it didn’t faze me,” Easterling said. “I wasn’t really nervous.”

The competition featured a couple hundred welding students from about eight different states.

Easterling won a full scholarship to the school. Both of his older brothers graduated from the school and now have successful careers.

“I’ve been wanting to follow in their footsteps ever since I was in fifth grade,” Easterling said.

Students Dalton Mims and Cody Padgett also competed in the event. Mims placed sixth in the competition. He has a half tuition scholarship to Tulsa from a previous competition.

“I was pretty nervous because there were a lot of people there and I had never competed in something on that scale,” Mims said.

Padgett also said he was nervous before the competition, but once the competition began he was able to focus.

Students were judged on the accuracy of their work, following the proper technique and the proper procedure.

Paul Nuckles, admissions recruiter for the Tulsa Welding School, said the competition required three different welding techniques.

“The boys have been practicing all year for this opportunity,” Nuckles said.

Mims and Padgett will also be competing in another event on March 20. Any scholarship money won at this event can be combined with previous winnings.

Padgett said he became interested in the field because an older friend and his farther were welders.

“It’s just always something that I wanted to do,” Padgett said

Mims said his father had also been a welder at one time.

“What I am trying to do is give them opportunities to earn scholarship money,” Nuckles said. “Notice I said earn, we don’t give them anything. They have to come weld and compete and the better competitor, the ones that have trained, usually win.”

Easterling said the day of the competition they were there about 5 a.m.

Students had to get their equipment set up and review safety measures in a certain amount of time before the actual welding competition began.

The competition required students to weld together a cylinder and flat pieces of metal according to the blueprint provided.

In addition to this scholarship, Easterling won a welder, belt buckle, tool bag filled with tools, a welder’s helmet. Mims also received a welder, tool bag filled with tools and a welder’s helmet for his sixth-place finish.

All three of the students have been accepted to Tulsa Welding School and will begin their studies on June 22.