Written by MICHAEL LoCICERO
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 16:48
Grafton High tech program is double winner in national tests
The year was 1994 and Plymouth decided it had had enough.
The car company was going through some difficult times and it wasn’t going to sponsor the annual Student Auto Skills National Finals any more.
Ford jumped at the chance, which meant Grafton High School teacher Carl Hader needed to find a dealership that would help support the school as it trained for competitions every year.
In stepped Schmit Bros. Ford in Saukville.
“Jim and Mike (Schmit) are very committed to hiring our people and have always stepped up for us,” Hader said. “You always see a gleam in Jim’s eye when he talks about young people coming to work for him.”
It has been a banner year for Hader’s automotive program, as his students have already captured two national titles: the National Automotive Technology Competition hosted by the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association in April and the Ford/AAA Auto Skills National Finals in Dearborn, Mich., last week.
The team of seniors Justin Bublitz and Colt Morris captured first place honors at the 65th annual contest last week by besting 49 other state-champion teams.
It’s the second title for Morris, who was also on the winning team in New York in April.
The challenge required contestants to race the clock to diagnose and repair problems in a “bugged” vehicle.
Bublitz and Morris received a perfect score by repairing their vehicle without any deductions.
The team was one of just 19 that repaired and started their cars within the hour time limit.
The duo won a variety of awards, including scholarships and the chance to shadow the pit crew of 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne as they prepare for the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla., in July.
Hader said Morris and Bublitz spent about 40 hours training for the competition, including an eight-hour cram session the Saturday before the event.
“We laid out our plan and the kids stuck with it really well,” he said. “They had some pretty tricky issues they had to overcome.”
The contest began with 13,000 competitors who were pared to 100 as part of 50 teams that qualified for the national event.
Hader said this was the first year his students have won both national competitions.
They have a chance to make the year even more memorable with the SkillsUSA competition in Kansas City coming up next week.
“To even participate in three national competitions in one year is almost unheard of,” Hader said. “To medal in two events with the possibility of a third would be unbelievable.”
Image information: SCHMIT BROS. FORD IN SAUKVILLE has been effusive in its support of the Grafton High School automotive team over the years, GHS teacher Carl Hader said. Shown celebrating another national championship were (from left) Schmit Bros. Manager Igor Sapozhnikov, owner Mike Schmit, GHS students Justin Bublitz and Colt Morris, Hader and Service Manager Craig Panzer. Photo by Sam Arendt