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The heat of competition

Area duo on SWCC welding fabrication team heading to Nationals

Second-year welding student Nate Venteicher of Greenfield, left, uses an oxy fuel cutting welder to cut out a piece of metal while fellow second-year student Tanner Wambold of Greenfield watches March 16 during Southwestern Community College's welding capstone class. Venteicher and Wambold, along with Shenandoah native Greg Moore, recently earned the right to compete at the SkillsUSA national competition.
Second-year welding student Nate Venteicher of Greenfield, left, uses an oxy fuel cutting welder to cut out a piece of metal while fellow second-year student Tanner Wambold of Greenfield watches March 16 during Southwestern Community College's welding capstone class. Venteicher and Wambold, along with Shenandoah native Greg Moore, recently earned the right to compete at the SkillsUSA national competition.

Nodaway Valley products Nathan Venteicher and Tanner Wambold have been hard at work moving up in the welding trade as students at Southwestern Community College.

The two are becoming even more well-versed in welding fabrication as they’ve gone through a SkillsUSA competition where they have to fabricate a job box for judges. They’re now on to the national level in the program.

Venteicher and Wambold are both sophomores and will graduate this weekend from SWCC with a welding technology associate degree, and they both have jobs lined up.

“This is something that started in high school. We just started watching YouTube videos and were kind of self taught,” Venteicher said. “Once we got to college we just started wanting to further that education.”

Though Nodaway Valley doesn’t have a full-fledged industrial technology program, there is a class where Venteicher and Wambold learned the very basics of welding in high school.

After they fabricated signs as a fundraiser and as practice within their craft, Venteicher and Wambold teamed up with Shenandoah graduate Greg Moore in entering the SkillsUSA competition.

“We got the materials list from Skills and they showed us what we’d need to use for the competition,” Wambold said. “We kind of drew up an idea before we started doing anything really.”

After two dry runs and tweaking, the trio found themselves ready for the competition, which was in a shop inside the South Ridge Mall in Des Moines.

“We liked how that last one came out so then we finalized our print after that. We did two of them before the competition and went to the competition on that Thursday, competed and did really well,” Wambold said.

The atmosphere in the first competition was similar to that on the television show “Forged in Fire.”

“It was a big shop and each team of three had a small booth with a 5-foot table. We were all spread around the shop. Judges said, ‘It’s time to go’ so everyone started breaking down, started working,” Wambold said.

The team had 6 1/2 hours hours and came well prepared, so much so that it finished early. Wambold did all of the torch work, Venteicher did the cut off wheel work and Moore drew up the needed cuts and did other prep work for the others.

“We had everything worked down to a science on our blueprint and kind of knew what we were doing before it started,” Venteicher said. “We kept moving, all three of us had a job and when we were done, we were done.”

SkillsUSA’s Nationals are in Louisville, Kentucky, June 24-29. Though details on what the team will be building are sketchy right now, they’re excited to get going.

“It’s cool and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for sure,” Venteicher said. “It’s a lot of learning experiences for us.”

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