West Rowan professional masons and students win masonry battle at Gold Hill – Salisbury Post

By Natalie Anderson
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GOLD HILL – Professional bricklayers from Union County will compete to be the nation’s best bricklayer in Las Vegas in January after laying more than 700 bricks on Friday in the SPEC MIX BRICKLAYER 500 North Carolina regional series.

In addition, a mason and masonry bidder from West Rowan High School placed first in the junior competition.

The regional masonry battle event is one of 20 across the country. It tests participants on their speed, skill, and stamina by challenging them to build the best and tallest brick wall, which is 26 feet long, with as few mistakes as possible in an hour. Wriston McGee and his loving Haren McGee, who both work with The McGee Brothers in Monroe, beat 12 other teams on Friday, winning the title of best mason in the state, with a chance to win the national title on January 19, 2022 during of the World of Concrete Show.

World Championship prizes total over $ 125,000 and include a new Ford F-250 truck, Kubota all-terrain vehicle, power tools and other prizes.

Wriston said his goal before Friday’s competition was to “lay 700 bricks and see what happens.” He added that the biggest challenge is minimizing fatigue towards the end and keeping the bricks straight. To prepare for Las Vegas, Wriston and Haren plan to practice brick laying for an hour in the same way as Friday’s contest.

January will mark the third time Wriston has qualified for domestic competition, although he has never been ranked. This will be Haren’s second trip and the first time he’s worked alongside Wriston.

In addition to a berth in the national competition, Wriston and Haren won $ 500 and other prizes after laying 745 bricks. A group of five judges based their decision on nine quality points, deducting points for each error.

“These people are the heart of this nation,” said event host Tom Clark. “I want these people to be my neighbor. They work hard. “

Second place winners include Zach and Grayson McGee, also of McGee Brothers, with a total score of 598 bricks and a prize of $ 400. In third place were Grant Helms and Judge Isenhour from Helms Masonry in Concord with 571 bricks and a cash prize of $ 350. David Kelly and Nick Campbell placed fourth with 552 bricks and a cash prize of $ 350.

Grant Helms is a recent West Rowan graduate who won the State Skills USA competition in 2019 and the Sam McGee Memorial Masonry Contest in Midland in May with a perfect score.

One of the goals of the regional competition, now in its 20th year, is to advance the industry and generate interest in a new generation of masons. Through a partnership with SPEC MIX and the North Carolina Mason Contractors Association, Friday was also a masonry training day for more than 370 masonry students at 16 high schools in North Carolina. Local entrepreneurs and product specialists set up booths to provide educational and networking opportunities.

Workforce Development and Training Coordinator Ryan Shaver of the State Masonry Contractors Association said there are 101 high schools across the state with programs for masonry training, which exceeds any other state. Shaver works directly with schools to create programs. He said it was a way to get them excited about a possible career in masonry, especially since the average age of masons in North Carolina is around 47, he said. declared.

Twelve student teams also competed in a shortened version of the main competition for 20 minutes. The first place winners of the junior competition are Anderson Pruitt and his sweetheart, Peyton Summerall, both of whom attend West Rowan High School. The team wall consisted of 257 bricks with no calculated deductions.

Pruitt, a senior, has competed three more times, but for Summerall, who is also a senior, this year’s event was a first. Pruitt and Summerall said the competition was fun but tough. Keeping the bricks glued and aligned correctly was the biggest challenge.

Pruitt said he has worked in the masonry business for three years now and plans to pursue a career after school. Summerall said he was considering the career.

“I’m definitely taking the course in high school. It will teach you a lot, ”Summerall said.

Nathaniel Myers and Tad Johnson of North Stanly High School placed second in the junior competition, followed by Annayell Dioniso and Leslie Maldonado of Columbus Career and College Academy in third; Ethan Moose and Elijah Horne of Mt. Pleasant High School in fourth and Mason Ridenhour and Wyatt Trexler of East Rowan High School in fifth.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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