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Wegner three-peats in SkillsUSA contest

SCHS senior the best in collision repair technology
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Tyler Wegner seals the rim of a tire Wednesday in the auto shop at Shawano Community High School. Wegner is a three-time SkillsUSA state champion in collision repair technology.

Tyler Wegner made history this month when he became the first three-time champion representing Shawano Community High School in a SkillsUSA competition.

The senior took first place in the collision repair technology competition during the SkillsUSA leadership conference held April 30 and May 1 in Madison. Normally, Wegner would represent Wisconsin at the national SkillsUSA conference the last week of June in Kentucky, but the champ has opted not to compete further.

“I decided not to, but the national competition was different in previous years,” Wegner said, noting that he had to take five Automotive Service Excellence certification tests, analyze frames and perform other activities when he’d previously competed at the national level.

There is the skills application process, where Wegner had to repair a fender and demonstrate his abilities with different kinds of welding. He also had to fix a cracked plastic bumper.

Wegner said the judging goes beyond just his hands-on skills. He also had to prepare a resume and dress appropriately for making repairs, he said.

“They also judge you on your attitude in the shop,” Wegner said.

Wegner has an added edge when it comes to knowing collision repair; his father, Todd Wegner, owns Quality Auto Body in the town of Richmond.

“I’ve been around there ever since I’ve been a little kid,” Tyler Wegner said. “Him and the workers there have taught me a lot of stuff, and that is where I’ve learned and become pretty good at it.”

Wegner purchased his first truck in 2015, a wreck that needed a lot of body work. He said he had to do a full repaint, add a lift and pretty much build it from the ground up.

Being able to build a vehicle instead of just buying one outright helped Wegner appreciate the work that went into it.

“My dad got to teach me a lot of the steps along the way,” Wegner said. “It’s a lot more fun at the end of the progress to see what you’ve built instead of going out and buying one.”

That truck has recently been sold, and Wegner has purchased another truck for his latest repair project with his father.

Wegner will be attending UTI Technical College in Illinois in the fall, hoping to continue the family business by getting a diesel automotive degree. Winning at the state SkillsUSA competitions have given Wegner enough scholarship funding for a full ride at the school.

Jeremy Hodkiewicz, Shawano’s advisor for SkillsUSA, considers Wegner’s achievement to be a real feather in the cap for the SCHS program.

“Hopefully, we can get some other students to see what that is like,” Hodkiewicz said, noting that he only had a few students from the high school and Shawano Community Middle School competing at this year’s conference. “We’ve had a couple of other state champs the last couple of years, but Tyler is the only multiple state champ we’ve had.”