KANSAS CITY - A Sentinel Career and Technology Center student made sure the national title in the SkillsUSA collision repair contest stayed in Tiffin.
Jason Lucius, a senior in Sentinel's collision repair program and at New Riegel High School, won a gold medal in the collision repair contest. It was the third straight year a Sentinel student won the gold, and the sixth time in as many years a Sentinel student placed in the top three in the contest.
Lucius, speaking by phone Wednesday night, said placing first felt amazing, and he started shaking when he saw his name on the screen. He had practiced for about 40 hours a week to prepare for the contest and expressed appreciation for his instructor, Carl Rusch, and Mimi Burgess-Todd, an assistant.
"It feels good (to have achieved my goal)," he said.
Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Technology Centers won seven medals, including six gold and one bronze, at the 48th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference. Awards were announced Wednesday evening.
Elissa Heal, Sentinel's director, said officials are proud of students, staff and business and industry partners who helped prepare students to compete at the national level. Wednesday was a great day for the district, she said.
It was a good year at Sentinel, and students tried hard, she said.
"We couldn't be prouder," she said.
Brandon Hicks, who represented Sentinel's building trades program and graduated from Columbian High School, won gold in carpentry.
Sentinel's health knowledge bowl team members, all from the medical technology program, also placed first. Members were graduates Billy Roe, Columbian, and Melanie Scherger, St. Wendelin Catholic School, and seniors Taylor Nye, Old Fort High School, and Alexis Schwilk, Upper Sandusky High School.
Gold medal winners from Vanguard-Technology Center were Career Pathways-Health Services Tech Prep Showcase, Career Pathways-Business Management and Technology Tech Prep Showcase and welding sculpture.
Tyler Tyree, a graduate of Sentinel's public safety services program and Hopewell-Loudon High School, won a bronze medal in the criminal justice contest.
The three gold medals mark the most ever won in one year by Sentinel students. Heal said officials had a sense of pride when they heard the three winners, and advisers were jumping out of their seats.
"It was very exciting," she said.
Scherger said Sentinel's health knowledge bowl team wanted to place, and getting first was its top goal. Team members wanted to study hard, do their best and hope for the best, she said.
Scherger, who expressed appreciation for instructor Sandy Reinhart, said the health knowledge bowl has four rounds of 12 questions. Competitors had 10 seconds to record a bid and 30 seconds to write answers.
"If you get the question wrong, if you even spell the answer wrong, your points get deducted," she said.
She said when she heard the team had won, she had overwhelming excitement and nervousness. It was followed by members jumping out of their seats and screaming.
"After that, it went by pretty fast," she said.
Hicks said winning was what he had been waiting for for the past two years, and he had been working hard to get that far. He said it took his breath away when he heard he won, and he was shocked.
Hicks said he felt confident because he was the first competitor done with the project, which involved building a deck, two walls and stairs and installing drywall and siding. He said the judges were shocked how fast he got it done.
"(I practiced) every night, Monday through Thursday," he said.
Hicks said he could not have been a national champion without his instructor, Aaron Thompson.
"He put in just as much time as us students," he said.
Tyree expressed appreciation for everyone who helped him place third at nationals, including Tiffin Police Department personnel and his instructors, friends and family. He said his goal going into the contest was to do his best. He said it was shocking to know he was in the top three in the nation, and being up on stage was awesome.
Tyree's contest involved competitors participating in two traffic stops, responding to a call, administering CPR and first aid, dealing with a middle school girl who was a victim of child abuse and going through an interview.
"I felt confident that I was in the top three," he said.