William Blount and Heritage high schools competed Friday, March 23, but not on a field, court or diamond.
The students from the vocational welding classes competed in the Airgas Blount County Welding Challenge, a first for the county. Heritage welding teacher John Davis worked with Billy Brimer from Airgas for two to three years to make the event happen.
"It finally came to fruition this year," Davis said.
Davis said that while students get to compete in regional, state and national competitions in different divisions, only one person from each school gets that opportunity. With this years local competition, a total of 15 students from each school competed. Seven students from each school competed in metal inert gas welding and stick welding and two in Tungestan inert gas welding.
"This allows each student within the program to have a chance to compete rather than just one, and to see how he stands amongst guys in the county," Davis said. "Hopefully well be able to expand upon this in the near future to include other schools outside the county."
Sponsors for the event included Airgas Mid-America, ESAB, Lincoln Electric, Boatmate Trailers, D.C. Electronics, Mid-South Machine, Aero Safety, Hypertherm, Jackson Products, Lenox Blades, Miller Electric and Thermadyne.
"Lincoln, Miller and ESAB - these guys all brought in very good door prizes for students who didnt place," Davis said. "Everyone who competed received T-shirts, posters, and everybody got something. In addition to the grand prize, first place in each division received dark helmets worth $300 to $500 a piece and torch cutting outfits."
Davis said the sponsors made the event special. "I cant say enough," he said of the sponsors. "Airgas handles ESAB, Lincoln and Miller products, and they pulled from each of them to get the prizes we had."
Heritage High School won the team competition, taking to the school a prize of a Miller Regency 250 Aluminum MIG welding machine valued at $6,000.
Individual winners were:
TIG welding competition
- First place - Rusty Perkins, Heritage
- Second place - Derrick Weacham, William Blount
MIG welding competition
- First place - Adam Latham, Heritage
- Second place - Luke Gregory, Heritage
- Third place - Jamie Lotts, Heritage
Shielded Metal Arc welding
- First place - Jesse Young, Heritage
- Second place - David Blair, Heritage
- Third place - Alex Squires, Heritage