ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud Technical and Community College had five students take home first place wins at a state competition.

The SkillsUSA State Competition was held last month. The five SCTCC programs that took first are Auto Body, Automotives, Culinary, Electrical and Medium/Heavy Truck.

Matt Hoepner is an instructor in the Medium/Heavy Truck program at SCTCC. He says students competed for a spot in the state competition earlier this year.

"We set up a little mini-contest for students to compete. It's a very good learning day for them because they get exposed to a lot of different things. At that point, we take the top six students to compete with the other top six around the state."

Each local contest is judged by professionals in each field.

From Auto Body, Jared West took first in the Collison Repair contest. In Automotives, Sam Peterson came in first in the Automotive Service Technology contest. For Culinary, Stephanie Gerlich took first place. In the Electrical Construction Wiring contest, Max Kalina came in first place.

Lastly, Andrew Rudd was awarded first place from the Medium/Heavy Truck program's Diesel Equipment Technology contest. For the Medium/Heavy Truck program, Hoepner says this is the first time a student has gone to nationals in over 15 years.

All five winners will be going on to compete in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. Hoepner says these students going to the national competition are the best of the best.

"The next step is actually going down to Lousiville, Kentucky to compete basically against the top competitors in the nation. "

Hoepner says students are anxious to see what will happen at the national contest.

"Here on campus, we are excited about it. Being an instructor in the skilled trades I really push this news because it is very exciting. It is kind of like this is their championship, they show up that one day and it's a long day and they put a lot into it. Through a two-year program, they learn a lot of things and really they are tested on all of these different things they have learned (over those two-years) all in one day."

The SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference will be held June 25-29.

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