Vale auto program sending student to national competition

VALE – Vale High School’s Automotive Technology is sending a student to compete at the SkillsUSA national championship in June. 

Senior Carson Dayton took first place in Automotive Service Technology at the SkillsUSA state competition Friday and Saturday, April 7-8. 

Drew Barnes, Vale High School automotive instructor, said this would be Dayton’s second year competing at the national championship. 

According to Barnes, the Vale automotive team has been competing in the SkillsUSA competitions since 2015. He said Vale has qualified to compete at the national contest each year. 

Last year, he said, Dayton took fourth overall at nationals as the only junior competing in diesel technology.

The national competition is scheduled for June 19-23 in Atlanta, Georgia. Barnes said Dayton would be competing in the automotive technology category. 

The competitors, Barnes said, rotate through a series of timed stations that test the student’s knowledge of every aspect of an automobile.

Barnes said stations are focused on automotive service, diesel technology and small engine repair. Students have about 10 minutes at each station, Barnes said, and are scored at each stop.

Barnes said students must place first in their category at state to qualify for the national championship. According to Barnes, Dayton would be the only Vale student moving on to the national competition this year. However, Barnes said six Vale auto students were in the top 10 of the state competition. 

In the automotive service category, Walker Phillips, a junior, took third overall, while Coy Schaffeld, a senior, took third in automotive maintenance and light repair. 

TJ Trowell took second in power equipment technology, while Jake Devos and Dax Barnes placed fourth and sixth. 

“As a whole,” Barnes said, “the class did very, very well.” 

Barnes said Dayton took first in automotive service and diesel technology at the state competition last year. 

Dayton’s success, Barnes said, has allowed him to lock up money in scholarships. Also, he said, companies donate tools to the top-performing students, saving them thousands of dollars. Dayton, slated to attend WyoTech in Laramie, Wyoming, has locked up roughly a third of his tuition. 

Barnes said he and Dayton are focusing on getting prepared for the national competition. 

“He’s already on a very great start,” Barnes said. “We’re just going to dig a little deeper.”  

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