Riverland students recognized for skills

Published 6:42 am Monday, June 2, 2008

Students from high schools and technical colleges from across the state competed at the April SkillsUSA Minnesota 2008 State Leadership and Skills Conference held in Bloomington, Minnesota. Riverland Community College sent more than 30 students to the competition, with four of these students qualifying to compete at the National SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City, Missouri, June 23-27. The competitions focused on technical skill demonstration in 70 competitive events, with more than 600 college students from 23 campuses of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

The Riverland students qualifying for national competition are: cosmetology student, Mechelle Severson (Rochester), first place in Extemporaneous Speaking; Web design students Greg Malbraaten (Bemidji ) and Matthew Steiner (Brownsdale), first place in Web design; collision repair student Nick Miller (Owatonna), first place in Job Skills Demonstration-A.

SkillsUSA Minnesota is a leadership organization for students in career and technical programs in high school and college. Students participate in leadership and skills competition at local, state and national levels where they build and reinforce technical skills, self-confidence, work attitudes and communications skills. The contests were held in the following nine career and technical education cluster areas: arts and communication; construction; health services; legal and protective services; hospitality; human services, manufacturing; science, engineering and technology; and transportation.

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State participants and their hometowns include:

Automotive Service Technology

Sam Robbins (Rochester) 2nd place

Matt Rud (Kasson)


Jon Bunton (Rochester)

Oscar Gomez (Faribault)


Erik Akkerman (Austin)

Travis Johnson (Austin)

Collision Repair Technology

Dan Johnson (Taopi)

Nick Miller (Owatonna)

Construction Blueprint Reading:

Erik Akkerman (Austin) 1st place

Jon Bunton (Rochester)

Oscar Gomez (Faribault)

Travis Johnson (Austin)

Jason Weitzel (Albert Lea)


Kalaria Orozco (Albert Lea) 3rd place

Solmary Alicia (Austin)

Angela Caldaron-Madrano (Albert Lea)

Criminal Justice

Tony Malepsy (Albert Lea) 2nd place

Diesel Equipment Technology

Travis Jacobson (Wells) 3rd place

Scott Arneson (Woodbury)

Geoff Gronwold (Riceville)

Nick Leiding (Mapleton)

Evan Treanor (Mapleton)

Extemporaneous Speaking

Mechelle Severson (Rochester) 1st place

Job Skills Demonstration – A

Nick Miller (Owatonna) 1st place

Tony Malepsy (Albert Lea)

Mechanics Dexterity

Nick Leiding (Mapleton) 2nd place

Evan Treanor (Mapleton) 3rd place


Josh Ailts (Rochester)

Ryan Faber (Austin)

Kent Lenz (Austin)

Chad Sandsmark (Alden)


Ethan Savage (Rochester); model was Jessica Leyva (Owatonna)

Mechelle Severson (Rochester); model was Anna Mattson (Emmons)

Technical Math

Josh Ailts (Rochester)

Residential Wiring

Brad Olson (Albert Lea)

Kyle Redlin (Mankato)

Jason Weitzel (Albert Lea)


Dan Johnson (Taopi) 1st place

Matt Rud (Kasson)

Web Design

Team of Greg Malbraaten (Bemidji) and Matthew Steiner (Brownsdale) 1st place

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. It was formerly known as VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America). This is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled work force.