Buckingham County High welding team named state champions

Published 10:40 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

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DILLWYN – The Buckingham County High School welding team brought home its first gold medal this month. Now the group says they’re ready to represent the state at the national competition this summer. 

The Buckingham County High School Welding and Fabrication Team placed first place at the SkillsUSA Virginia State Conference and Championship. 

Javon Baker, Brandon Johnson and Jacob Palmore competed against six other teams from across the state on April 21 through the 23 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. According to coach Chris Walter, this is the first time a Buckingham welding team has won at the state level. 

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“My biggest takeaway from the competition was a better relationship with my fellow teammates,” said Palmore. “It feels great to win and we are ready to head to nationals.”

“I really enjoyed interacting with the different teams that were there,” added Baker. “It was a really cool experience and for me, it was less about winning and more about the journey.”

The competition judges the teams on their skill and accuracy. The team received blueprints with welding symbols and got to work. The team had to use various tools to cut and weld steel for their final product. They had a time limit to put this together so they had to work quickly and efficiently to create the best results. 

“You have to be right in your head and you can’t just go in worried about other things and have anxiety about the competition,” said Johnson. “If you do, you’ll forget what you’re supposed to do and not focus on what’s in front of you.”

Work pays off for Buckingham County High

Their focus and hard work paid off as they took home first place in the state. According to Johnson, as they prepare for nationals in June, the team will continue doing what they are already doing. They will keep learning new techniques while improving the ones they’ve already learned to keep their skills sharp. Even though they took home the gold, looking over a first-place finish, they can see where and how they can improve as they prepare to go up against at least 40 other teams.

According to Walter, when talking with the team about nationals, their focus wasn’t solely on winning first place again. The team hopes to improve upon what they’ve already learned and to give the best results they can in June.

“They are looking to improve, which is better than a number,” said Walter. “They did settle on top 10 and that would be quite an accomplishment. They’re representing the whole state of Virginia and I couldn’t have picked a better team.”