Johnston students compete in state welding competition; Erickson places fifth among women

IMG 1755DES MOINES, Ia. (May 29, 2023) — JHS student Brileligh Erickson recently placed 5th in the women’s division among 25 women and a total 106 welders at the statewide high school weld competition.

Erickson was among five Johnston students — along with Faith Weigel, Max Le, Ethen Bevington and Aidan Egan — participating in the state competition at Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 33. They were accompanied by their teacher and coach, Alex Petersen. This was a first for all of them.

The competition was very prepared, and the Johnston team learned a lot as a group. All of the students put in extra time practicing in open periods and in between the normal welding class to get ready for the competition. Since they didn’t know what to expect, each of them practiced in every position. 

During the competition, Mr. Petersen was not allowed to coach the students so they were on their own. As a group, everyone welded well with small mistakes that could normally be corrected with a grinder, but part of the competition rules IMG 1765did not allow use of a grinder. 

“They looked like young professional welders,” Petersen said.

Top 5 students all won great prizes and there was also a raffle with additional prizes. Every student that competed got a shirt and a gift bag with gloves and other goodies. First place in both divisions won welding machines and the top raffle prizes were also welding machines. 

For her fifth place win, Erickson won a box full of welding goodies including a new weld hood, gloves, weld coat and more.IMG 1747

Johnston thanks Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 33 for putting on such a fun and exciting event for everyone. Also all the staff and apprentices that helped out with the competition, including the tasty lunch they provided for everyone. Thanks also to the JHS  PTO who bought some of the weld hoods used in the competitions. 

Takeaways, Petersen said collectively we learned how strict the standards are for a good weld. We also learned how good someone can be at such an early age with the right guidance and practice. Overall an awesome experience. Petersen said he had such a great time with the students and is very proud of the effort they put in and the willingness the students had to work hard. Welding at a high level is not an easy task!