The Pocahontas County High School TeamWorks group, from left, Braeden Hicks, Trevor McPeak, Trey Miller and Logan Dilley, pose with the 8×8 project they made for the SkillsUSA competition in Fairmont April 13 and 14. Photo courtesy of Duane Gibson

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the state SkillsUSA competition April 13 and 14, the Pocahontas County High School TeamWorks group – seniors Logan Dilley and Tevor McPeak and juniors Braeden Hicks and Trey Miller – were pitted against seven teams and finished in second place.

Entering the competition, the team had a little bit of an advantage because Hicks and Miller were both on the team last year and McPeak competed individually last year, as well.

“Basically, it’s the same as last year – an eight by eight building,” Hicks said. “We started with the floor and built from the ground, up – put a roof on it, a little bit of electricity and little plumbing and brick on the outside.”

Hicks was the team carpenter, Dilley, the electrician; Miller, the mason; and McPeak, the plumber.

The team worked together for four months prior to the competition to be prepared, but they already seemed in-sync because they have class together every day. Hicks explained that some of the teams from larger schools or technical institutes that serve multiple high schools, don’t meet until competition day.

“Most of the schools – they don’t see each other until competition day,” he said. “They pick the best and put them together. We’re in class every day together.”

They were also together after school a lot. Unlike larger technical schools, PCHS only has a carpentry department in which teacher Duane Gibson must find the time to teach the team members the basics of electricity, masonry and plumbing.

“He basically learned how to do electricity in four months,” Miller said of Dilley.

All four students spent time after-school working with Gibson to hone their skills. With all the days off due to the work stoppage and snow days, the team said it was hard to get together to practice, but all the work they did put in paid off.

Although they only competed against seven teams, the group said the competition still has the ability to make them nervous and to be a little crazy.

The TeamWorks competition takes place in an airplane hangar in Fairmont and with that large of an area, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

“I was a little nervous,” Dilley admitted, who competed for the first time this year.

“I competed in individual last year, but I was kind of nervous,” McPeak agreed.

When the teams entered the hangar, they found areas cordoned off for each team, as well as all the supplies needed to complete the project at-hand.

“When you walk in, there’s a pile of lumber over here and then everyone’s just lined up around the room,” Hicks said.
“Whenever they say ‘go,’ – it’s a million people just running and grabbing and trying to get stuff put up first. It’s a little hectic, but if you focus, you can get a lot done.”

This year, the team was unable to add any masonry work to their piece, but they weren’t the only ones.

“They didn’t let anyone lay any brick this year,” Hicks said. “They really tried cutting you short.”

The teams are given six hours to complete the project and time ran out before most of the teams got to the masonry.

Despite the unfinished project, the team took second place.

With the competition over, the group is thinking about the future. Seniors Dilley and McPeak are preparing to graduate, with McPeak considering a career in the carpentry field. Juniors Hicks and Miller have another year to finish, but both plan to graduate early and hit the road for work.

“We’re both planning on going on the road,” Miller said.

“I’m planning on going on the road with electrical substations,” Hicks said. “It’s a little bit different from what we’re doing here.”

Since they will finish school early, they won’t be able to compete again next year, but they hope to help Gibson select new members for the team.

“I wouldn’t mind [competing] again, but we’ll only have three classes next year,” Hicks said. “Then we’ll be going to work. We’ll probably have a little say into [picking the team].”