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Three Estacada students take second place at state-wide auto shop competition

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO, Cody Bagley works on repairing a bumper during the collision repair competition.

With events in every state, SkillsUSA held its spring competition in Oregon at Sabin-Schellenberg. The competition features every type of skill, from cosmetics to cooking to auto shop.

For 10 Estacada students, however, the auto portion of the competition was the focus.

Under the direction of teacher Glen Nation, Estacada High School sent students to compete in a number of areas including collision repair, fabrication and general welding, among others.

Three of those students took home second-place awards (Braylon Sullivan, Cody Bagley and Kyle Nicodemus) in the state-wide competition and two of them earned $5,000 scholarships.

'I train the kids in all areas,' Nation said. 'A lot of it isn't in the curriculum, but it takes place after school or on weekends.

'This is definitely the most rewarding thing I do, because we need techs in the field since so many guys are retiring. These kids did it, though, these three are driven and motivated, and they know what they want.'

Braylon Sullivan

Braylon Sullivan, a senior at Estacada High School, was the student with the most competition for his second-place award. In a field of 30 students, Sullivan was entered in the field of auto service technology.

The competition consisted of a four-hour test with eight separate areas that each had their own 15-minute challenge. Stations required identifying parts that were on the table, diagnosing a trouble code, determining what was wrong with an engine and disassembling parts, among other things.

'Everything I learned was from here at school,' he said. 'My first year of high school I took auto class and since Day 1, I have loved it.'

For finishing in second place, Sullivan won a $5,000 scholarship to Universal Tech Institute (UTI), which has campuses across the country.

At last year's competition, Sullivan was voted as one of six students to represent the state in organizing the competition, however, grades and other activities eventually forced him to give up his spot.

With the scholarship, however, he now plans on attending UTI in Sacramento, Calif., where he'll study auto technology.

'It was a good experience, and having second place from SkillsUSA will look great on my résumé,' he said. 'I want to work for a dealership or a body shop some day on the repair side.'

Cody Bagley

Cody Bagley, another senior from Estacada High School, took second place in collision repair. Unlike Sullivan, however, Bagley had the advantage of learning a lot of his trade from outside the school.

Bagley said that his father owns a collision repair shop, where he fell in love with working on cars at a young age.

'I knew I wanted to work on cars since age 10,' he said. 'My goal is to get a degree in motorcycle repair and eventually open my own shop building bikes.'

What will help Bagley get closer to his goal is the fact that this was the second $5,000 scholarship that he has earned in his four years of high school. His freshman year, he earned another scholarship for his work on refinishing.

This year, in collision repair, Bagley was tasked with fixing a major dent in a car. The process began with pounding out the dent before spreading 'Bondo' on the dent in order to smooth out the surface. After sanding and painting, contestants were judged based on how normal the spot looked.

'My favorite part is spreading the Bondo because I like the hands-on aspect of this work,' he said. 'Bondo is a body filler, that after mixing, you can apply to the dent in order to fill it.'

Kyle Nicodemus

Kyle Nicodemus, another senior from Estacada High School, also finished in second place in his field - power equipment technology - but was not awarded a scholarship.

Nicodemus' field dealt mostly with small engines, where he had to test several different things, remove and reinstall valves in an engine, provide measurements and do compression and ignition tests.

'My neighbor got me into dirt bikes, and it just became part of my life,' he said. 'Most of my learning has been from school. Sophomore year we tore down and rebuilt a lawnmower engine, and then outside of school I also had to rebuild my dirt bike engine.'

Despite not having a scholarship, Nicodemus still hopes to attend UTI, where he wants to study at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute.

'I hope to just go to school, and then eventually work my way up to having my own shop,' he said.