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Sunday, September 21, 2014

WCC Welder Joe Young Takes Silver in International Competition

Last fall, state welding champ and WCC student Joe Young missed the cut to compete for a world title when he placed fifth in the SkillsUSA national welding competition. Though he felt that his welds had hit their mark and were worthy of at least third place, the Las Vegas judges saw it differently.

It was the kind of experience that would break the spirit of any competitor, and Young admits he was upset at the results. But when the call came in early March that one of the U.S. qualifiers had dropped out and he had a chance to compete, he went straight to the welding lab and got to work.

“I knew I was the underdog because the other guys had been practicing since Thanksgiving,” said Young. “So I trained 14 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week, for the International Pre-Trial Competition in Kansas City in June.”

Young won that competition and the right to represent the United States at the WorldSkills International Competition in Calgary, Alberta, Sept. 1-6. He returned to the U.S. and WCC triumphantly with a silver medal.

In Calgary, Young competed against 21 of the world’s best welders from countries as far away as Iran, Korea, New Zealand, and Brazil. In the end, only five points separated him from gold medal winner Aeamphong Taweesuk of Thailand.

“Experts from other countries commented on his capabilities, and were very interested in his training and what had to be his unwavering dedication to perfecting his craft,” said welding instructor Glenn Kay, who together with instructor Coley McLean worked with Young to prepare him for competition. “I was able to finally see what I knew to be true for as long as I have worked with Joe: that his commitment, dedication, and talent would truly shine and that he would represent the United States with as much enthusiasm, professionalism, and quality that he had shown me in the welding lab.”

“You just go there and do the best you can,” said Young, 21, a 2006 graduate of Hartland High School. “It’s like art. You put everything on the table and at the end of the day you know you’ve tried your hardest and no one can take that away from you. It meant a lot to me to represent the United States and WCC. I could’ve come in last place and felt like the luckiest person there. And I can’t say enough about the support I got from Glenn Kay and Coley McLean. They deserve just as much credit as I do—they were with me all the way.”

Before heading to Calgary, Young spent several weeks in Atlanta training with the American Welding Society and with former U.S. competitors now working out of United Association Local 72. With the competition behind him, Young will work in the WCC Welding Department as a technician while he completes his associate degree in welding technology. After WCC, he is likely to transfer to Ferris State University or Georgia Tech, where he will apply the $40,000 scholarship he earned for his first-place finish at the International Pre-Trial Competition.

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