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Marion's Ag Mech team is 8th in nation

Staff writer

A cunning posse of mechanically-minded youngsters recently cowboyed up and branded Marion-Florence’s FFA chapter onto the nation’s hide by placing eighth overall in an Agricultural Technology and Mechanical Systems Career Development competition.

Marion High School seniors Raleigh Kroupa and Bret Voth made up the younger half of the fab four, while Kansas State freshmen and MHS graduates Clint Kroupa and Nicholas Meyer, who is also Kansas FFA sentinel, rounded out the team’s elder half.

Marion-Florence’s chapter won at the state level for the chance to contend under the big lights, against 42 other teams in Kentucky Exposition Center at Louisville, Kentucky.

“It feels pretty good, like we really accomplished something,” Bret said. “We studied all the way up.”

The event allowed team members to apply classroom knowledge to real-life situations.

“I’d much rather work with my hands than sit in front of a computer,” Bret said. “I had fun building.”

The focus of the competition was planting systems. It included a written exam, demonstration of problem solving skills, and hands-on performance skills in the areas of natural resources, machinery and equipment, structural, energy, and electrical systems.

“It was pretty stiff competition, but each team was pretty much the same as us,” Raleigh said. “It’s good to know that we are not just average.”

During the team activity competition, members had to design and line up a spindle and hub, which are a metal plate with a hole in it and a shaft that are integral to the function of a planter.

“There were a lot of mathematical calculations we weren’t expecting,” Meyer said. “The industry wanted to see more math, but some teams wanted less.”

Raleigh noticed that teams from bigger cities like New York City seemed not to have as much experience in the welding portions of competition.

“I’ve been welding since I was a freshman,” he said.

Raleigh’s teammate and cousin Clint echoed a similar sentiment.

“Coming from a small rural community, I feel like we had an advantage over some of the bigger city chapters,” he said. “I’ve been around this stuff all my life.”

Clint said much of his education came outside of school from his lifetime of experience on the family farm.

Nick’s team members said he provided valuable enthusiasm, knowledge, and leadership during competition.

Meyer, Nick’s father and FFA faculty representative, said members made the gold division by scoring in the top 25 percent of their peers and worked efficiently as a team.

“It certainly was a different experience this year with a contest team competing,” Meyer said. “It was the first time Marion has had an ag mech team compete at a national level.”

Last modified Nov. 5, 2014

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