Rodeo

Mecklenburg Electric’s Rob Clary listens to instructions before he competes in the International Lineman’s Rodeo.

Lineworkers from electric cooperatives from Virginia and Delaware were strong performers at the 2019 International Lineman’s Rodeo, the signature event of skills and excellence in the field. 

A three-member journeyman team from Delaware Electric Cooperative and two apprentice lineworkers from Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative battled under cloudy and wet conditions at the annual event, held Oct. 19 in Bonner Springs, Kansas, west of Kansas City, Missouri. 

The rodeo attracts competitors from co-ops, investor-owned utilities, municipal systems and contractors in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to see how they stack up in the “Super Bowl” of lineworkers.

“We are extremely proud that lineworkers from our electric cooperatives can go up against the best in the world and demonstrate the skills and techniques that they use to keep the lights on every single day,” said Richard G. Johnstone Jr., president and CEO of the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC).

“They deserve our praise, and in the years ahead we anticipate even more of our lineworkers competing on this important international stage,” Johnstone added.

In its 36th year, the rodeo’s field included nearly 240 journeyman teams and 321 apprentice lineworkers working solo in skills such as a hurt man rescue, pole climbing and an insulator change.

In the journeyman division, the Delaware Electric team of Philip Collison, Dave Morgan and Michael Layton followed up on this past May’s regional Gaff-n-Go Lineman’s Rodeo near Richmond, where they won the Jimmy Gardner Award as the top co-op team.

The trio finished 19th in the international “best of the best.” The Delaware crew’s total time for four events was 33:46.13 with no deductions. Collison, Morgan and Layton were less than three minutes from a finish in the top 10. They also placed sixth among 36 co-op teams.  

“It’s an honor to be able to come to something like this,” Morgan said. “I’ve worked a long time in this business and I’ve never been to something this big.”

Two lineworkers from Chase City-based Mecklenburg Electric participated in the apprentice division. T.W. Parks finished 45th out of 321, while Rob Clary also registered an impressive showing.

“It means a lot just to be able to come out here and compete with these guys and meet different people from all over the country,” Clary said. 

Mecklenburg’s Matt Shaw and Clint Card served as a judge and a safety official, respectively, at the event. Card said he was impressed with the camaraderie among the many linemen who had never met, yet quickly became friends. 

“They come from all parts of the country, all parts of the world, and we all are one,” he said. “It’s heartwarming, and it’s an honor.”