Gillette College students earn top spots at national SkillsUSA competition

Ten Gillette College students traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, last week to compete against thousands of their peers at the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference. All 10 students placed within the top 15 in the nation.

Only those students who won gold medals at the Wyoming SkillsUSA competition in April were eligible to compete at the national competition.

In team competition, students Oscar Flores, Lane McFerrin, Nestor Parra, Nick Larson and Cody Elliott, all of Gillette, placed sixth in Quiz Bowl. In individual competition, Nathan Blazek of Gillette won eighth place in Diesel Technology, Cristian Sanchez took 11th in Job Skill Demonstration and Christopher Marcus won fifth place in the Welding Sculpture category.

Colby Uran of Casper placed 11th in Individual Welding, and Makayla Morris of Sheridan was 15th in the Prepared Speech category.  Gillette College students have brought home 18 top 25 finishes at nationals over the past three years.

“Because our students consistently excel on the national level, it’s easy to take it for granted,” said Jed Jensen, dean of career and technical education for Gillette College and the Northern Wyoming Community College District. “But their performance was incredible and truly points to our top-notch technical programs that provide them with the best education possible.”

More than 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students competed in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields at the conference. Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as welding, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, diesel technology and culinary arts. Industry professionals, trade associations and labor organizations helped direct the competitions.

The philosophy of the SkillsUSA competitions is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs. To learn more about SkillsUSA, visit or the Wyoming chapter website at