Welders light the fire

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Seth Vaughn, 17, was born to weld. Following in his father's footsteps, he had a natural inclination toward welding and has since excelled at it.

The Yerington High School junior captured the gold in the regional Skills USA competition held Saturday at Western Nevada Community College.

But it was just the first step for Vaughn.

"It's getting me ready for underwater welding school," he said.

He also plans to take a job welding at Marathon, a local factory, until he graduates from high school.

About 30 students competed demonstrating proficiency in various skills including arc welding, cutting and vertical welding.

Chairman Jim Pawluk, welding instructor at the college and certified welder, called the competition "our Olympics."

And like the Olympics, tension was high and the pressure was on -- and, for some, the pressure was too much.

"I didn't do too good," said Wooster High School junior Cameron Brin. "I kind of choked on a few of them that I need a little more practice on."

But for others, everything came together.

"I think I did good," said Chris Buchheister, a senior at Carson High School. "Last year I bombed it but this year, it felt good. Everything went smooth."

Buchheister went on to place third overall.

The top three competitors will advance to the state competition in Las Vegas in April.

Beyond the competition, however, Pawluk said the competitors have a bright future.

"This whole welding industry is just dying for qualified people," he said. "There's a lot of work out there. They're really hurting to get skilled certified welders."

He said a union certified welder could start at a salary of about $32 to $36 per hour.

Winners of regional Skills USA welding contest

First place: Seth Vaughn, Yerington High School

Second place: Ryan Altura, North Valley High School

Third place: Chris Buchheister, Carson High School


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