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Plumber Goes for the Gold

By:  Jim Cline

HUNTINGTON, Mass (WGGB)– Last year when Nick Michalenko was a junior at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, he entered the annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference competition. It’s for state champions in more than 91 trades.  Nick had won his title in plumbing and at the national level, he took 6th overall.

Nick graduated from Smith Voc this year and also qualified for the nationals once again.  He said he felt pretty good about his chances there, have tried it once before.  And after seven hours of very hard work on a small stage in front of judges, he was tired, but happy. 

“I thought I did pretty good,” he said. “It all looked great to me.”

But when the winners were announced, Nick not only didn’t win the gold medal, he didn’t medal at all.  At a party afterwards, he found out he had finished 4th. 

“We didn’t know why,” he said. “We didn’t know what was screwed up or anything.”

As it turns out, there was a mistake.  One of the judges scores was recorded as 11.  It should have been a 71, and that was the difference between 1st and 4th.  

On Aug. 31st, there’ll be a ceremony at Smith Voke and Nick will be given his Carhartt clothing and a couple thousand dollars worth of tools, a scholarship and his gold medal.  He says he doesn’t feel bad about not going on stage to get his medal.  He just wanted the tools.


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