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Published April 06 2012

NDSCS tops ag machinery competition

Wahpeton, N.D. - When it comes to the National Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization’s annual competition for ag machinery technicians, North Dakota State College of Science has something of a reputation to uphold.

“We have traditionally been a very strong college,” said Larry Ascheman, coordinator of the school’s John Deere Tech program. “It’s something our school does and does well.”

Ascheman’s been involved with the program and the competition – which tests ag tech students on written knowledge and hands-on expertise – since 1994. In that time, NDSCS teams have finished first 10 times, and second or third another 10.

This year’s competition, held last month in Des Moines, Iowa, was no exception: NDSCS teams took first, fifth and 10th place out of 23 total teams from around the country. Leif U’Ren, an NDSCS student from Redwood Falls, Minn., was the top individual scorer.

“We expected to do decent,” he said. “You don’t expect to win or anything.”

He and partner Jeff Bruning of Mapleton, Iowa, studied in the evenings leading up to the competition to brush up on their technical knowledge, including things they’d learned early in their two-year program and hadn’t studied for more than a year.

“Neither me or Jeff were really sure how we did,” U’Ren said. “It was a pretty tough competition, I thought. But apparently everybody else thought it was tough, too.”

Both students will graduate this year. All students in the program have jobs lined up at sponsoring John Deere dealerships when they enter.

“It’s just something you can take back to your dealership,” Bruning said. “It’s something to be proud of.”

Chris Hanynie of Circle, Mont., and Jared Elliot of Galesburg, N.D., took fifth place. Ryan Johnson of Cummings, N.D., and Justin Hanawalt of Monticello, Minn., took 10th.

By now, Ascheman said, the schools’ reputation precedes it, which says good things about the NDSCS program.

“We have kind of a target on our back,” he said. “Some of the other schools were like, if we can beat the kids from North Dakota, we have a chance of winning this thing.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502