Trevor Fugate recently helped lead the Harper automotive squad to a team triumph at state. The next step for Fugate will be to compete at a national competition later his month. (Submitted photo).

HARPER – School’s out but junior Trevor Fugate still has studying to do as he readies for his debut in national automotive competition.

Fugate, part of a team from Harper High School, recently won the state title in diesel competition.

He was among nine competitors from the school, and six finished in the top 20.

It was a strong showing, given this is only the second year Harper has fielded a team at state. The program is only three years old.

Wade Johnson, a former professional mechanic, left the auto world to start the program. He said Harper officials wanted to offer better electives for students.

“Our purpose is to open their eyes to a pathway to a possible career field,” Johnson said.

He set up the program in a shop at the school, and gets engines and other supplies donated. He said students get “employability skills” but need college or work experience to “fine tune” their mechanic skills.

He said four Harper students competed at state last year, with four finishing in the top 20.

“I wanted to improve on that,” he said. “It’s been a pretty good year.”

Fugate said he always wanted to be a mechanic and joined the Harper program last year.

He was 12th at state last year in automotive and didn’t compete in diesel mechanics.

This year he competed in both, earning 10th in automotive. Then he spent two hours going through five stations in the diesel competition.

The first station was a test on diesel exhaust systems. He said he did well on the written test but “I could have done better” on naming the system parts. He was then tested on brakes, cooling and electrical systems. The final station was a pre-inspection of a freight tractor truck.

“I found a nail in the tire. In the air line to the back, there was a break,” he said.

When winners were announced, junior Cody Hall was sixth in the diesel competition.

“I guess I didn’t make it to the top six,” Fugate told himself. The other places were announced and Fugate didn’t hear his name.

Then, his name was announced as champion.

“I looked down at the other kids. Did I hear that right? I did hear it right,” Fugate said.

He now readies for national competition in Kentucky later this month. He will take family tradition with him.

His father, Sean, was part of the Vale High School championship auto team in 1986 and went to nationals. He finished ninth.

“He was the first in Vale to go to nationals,” Fugate said. “I always wanted to do the competition that he did. Now I get to do it.”

First, he heads to Portland for more training.

And he has to raise about $2,000 to cover travel costs to Kentucky. Those interested in donating should contact the school at 541-358-2473.