High school students compete in auto repair contest

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MEQUON -- Consider it the state finals for auto repair. The 20 best automotive students from 10 Wisconsin high schools put their skills to the test Thursday, May 10th, racing to fix Ford Fusions.

“They're all bugged identically.  Basically, they will get a work order and here's the problems,” Roy Hinz, spokesperson from AAA said.

At Milwaukee Area Technical College’s North Campus in Mequon, ten teams of two worked to fix the mechanically bugged vehicles.  The goal was to get them back to working factory condition within the 90 minute allotted time.

“Just checking fuses and other stuff that can go wrong,” Senior Dustin Westphal from Grafton High School said. This was Westphal's first Ford AAA Auto Skills Competition. “Just going to take it like any other practice, I guess,” Westphal said.

Along with Grafton, West Allis Central High School, Badger High School from Lake Geneva and Washington Park High School from Racine were among the participating schools from our area.

Washington Park High School actually took home the national title in a separate competition in April.

“You can't get too hyped up about it because you end up making mistakes.  So just be calm, cool, collected like you're doing another practice,” Senior Ryan Herman said.

For Herman, winning in the past does not guarantee the top spot in this competition.  He was in charge of engine problems while his partner worked on other bugs like bad bulbs or air pressure. “Say we have a cam sensor problem where I'll take care of that, or a maybe a misfire and I'll be taking care of that too,” Herman said.

In order to win, the team must have a perfect vehicle, meaning it's not necessarily who finishes first, but who cruises through the contest with no mistakes. “It's not only a time test, but a quality test,” Hinz said.

The winners move on to the national competition in Dearborn, Mich. and they get an automotive scholarship to MATC. Grafton High School won the title last year.

The results this year are as follows...

  • 1st place: Racine Washington Park -- students Ryan Herman & Zachary Rosenquist; instructor David Dixon
  • 2nd place: Grafton -- students Dustin Westphal & Jordan Kreutzer; instructor Carl Hader
  • 3rd place: McFarland -- students Chris Allen & Jimmy Walker, instructor Dan Klecker
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