Larry Kline Havre Daily News email@example.com
Two Montana State University-Northern students took home gold medals from the national SkillsUSA competition. Cody Blanchard won gold in the diesel competition and Nick Johnson won the automotive service technology contest. The pair were joined by five other Northern students at the competition held last month in Kansas City. To qualify for the competition, each student had to win in his or her category at the state SkillsUSA contest held at MSU-N in April, Northern automotive and diesel professor Kevin Johnson said. Cory Hautzinger placed fourth in the job skills demonstration and Megan Cail placed tenth in technical drafting. Andi Ross finished in the top half of the auto body contest, and Pam Gaworski and Marvin Yousif competed in architectural drafting and job interview, respectively. Kevin Johnson, who is Nick’s father, said employers pay attention to how well students do in SkillsUSA. “They are competing in a contest set up by industry. It’s on the latest and newest technology. It really tests the students,” he said.
Nick Johnson is the first Northern student to win two golds in the same category. He will graduate next year with bachelor’s degrees in diesel and automotive and an associate’s degree in ag mechanics, Kevin Johnson said. He has accepted a summer job with a company in Florida that overhauls ship engines. Blanchard has won two bronze medals in the automotive competition. This is his first gold, and Northern’s first winner in the diesel competition in about a decade, Kevin Johnson said. Blanchard graduated this year with bachelor’s degrees in automotive and diesel and a minor in business, he said. He has accepted a full-time job with an equipment dealership in Great Falls. Both Johnson and Blanchard were student excellence award winners. Each student competitor deserves accolades, Kevin Johnson said. “They’re all good individuals,” he said. “They’ve been actively involved in the club, in leadership roles and the state and local levels. Every single one of them have been ... state officers.” He said no other school in the country has won as many combined SkillsUSA medals over the years as Northern