Fruita team headed to FFA nationals

With only three weeks to study up and refine their skills, members of the Fruita Monument High School mechanics team learned last week they will compete in the National FFA Agricultural Mechanics Career Development Event.

Senior Koal Smith and 2010 graduates Kevin Meyers, Sage Rodgers and Kevin Switzer placed second in the state at a Future Farmers of America mechanics competition last spring and thought the first-place team from Craig would represent Colorado at the competition Oct. 20–23 in Indianapolis. But when Craig dropped out, coach Ryan Hudson received a call that it was Fruita who would be going to Indiana.

Hudson called the team members, who are in Fort Collins and Arizona as well as the Grand Valley, immediately after hearing the message at 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Rodgers was so excited by the news he forgot about an injury on the bottom of his foot that had just healed and jumped off the bunk in his Central Arizona College dorm room, tearing a muscle. He’s ready to miss eight days of school for the competition, bum foot and all.

Meyers, a mechanical engineering student at Colorado State University, also will miss a week of school. Myers said he wishes he had more time to prepare for the event, which includes written tests and hands-on projects such as fixing equipment and machinery. But he’s going to take the advice of his brother, who went to nationals three years ago with the Fruita team, and study hard.

“I trust the team. I know we’ll be studying like crazy for the next three weeks,” he said.

With other teams five months ahead of Fruita in preparation, Hudson admits he was a little concerned about the team’s chances at nationals. He has hope, though, because the team members all worked in mechanical-related jobs over the summer and have years of training and practice behind them.

“With 21 days out, it’s a crash course in making sure we have all the bells and whistles,” Hudson said.

No matter what happens, Hudson said getting a second chance at nationals after losing by just 15 points at the state competition has renewed team confidence.

“For their entire agricultural mechanics career, they trained hoping for a bid to nationals,” Hudson said.


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