By Benjamin Spillman
By the time PG&E and IBEW 1245 linemen and apprentices geared up at the 2021 International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan., on Oct. 16, it had been nearly 730 days since the previous competition.
If there was any rust on the competitors from California it didn’t show.
Two journeyman teams finished in the top 10 for “Best of the Best” and four apprentices within the top 20.
“They did awesome,” said Sid Silva, PG&E lineman and rodeo committee lead. “It felt great to be back to watch our talented linemen and apprentices show their skill and pride in what they do.”
Competitors on poles at the 2021 International Lineman's Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan., on Oct. 16.
The IBEW-sponsored journeyman team of Brandon Dance, Dustin Curry and Nick Noriega finished fourth and the PG&E-sponsored team of Adam Beene, Anthony Albright and JP Richard, who won a World Championship in 2014 and finished first in 2017, finished ninth out of 122 teams.
Among apprentices in the “Best of the Best” Aaron Sabato finished first, Dave Carlon 11, Austin Trevino 12 and Alex Clardy 16 out of 182 competitors.
Another PG&E journeyman, Floppy Hunt, was on a team that finished third overall.
Sabato described his first-place finish as the result of a total team effort.
“I think I got first by listening to everyone around me,” said the apprentice from Lemoore. “When we were practicing in Livermore the journeymen would come over and point things out that we might not have thought of. All those little things add up.”
In addition to competitors, judges and coaches, the PG&E contingent included supportive family members along with Ahmad Ababneh, vice president, Major Projects and Programs, Mike Kress, senior director, General Construction and Contractors and Bob Brock, director, Transmission Line Maintenance and Construction, who served on the Rodeo Committee.
While the competition is staged with equipment that isn’t live, doing well requires using the same skills linemen use every day across PG&E’s service area.
“I’m just focusing on what I have to do and blocking everything else out,” Beene said shortly after his team competed.
PG&E-supporting spectators at the 2021 International Lineman's Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan., on Oct. 16.
Scoring across events is a combination of points and time, with deductions for mistakes.
The idea is to simulate actual line work by making the use of safe practices key to finishing well.
“It safely simulates real tasks and conditions our coworkers face every day,” Silva said. “It demonstrates that no matter how complex the work, they can do it safely.”
Among the top 10 journeyman team finishers, none finished with more than four points deducted.
“That is the main thing, being safe,” said PG&E journeyman competitor Seth Jones. “Our line of work is really dangerous, so you have to really think about it.”
As with so many skills, proficiency is efficiency. That means talented linemen have the ability to work swiftly without rushing the job.
PG&E and IBEW 1245 were well-represented at the 2021 International Lineman's Rodeo on Oct. 16 in Bonner Springs, Kan.
“I try and be as fast as I can yet be as smooth as I can be” Jones said. “You hear the term smooth is fast and it’s true.”
Looking back on the successful return, Silva said the results were a credit to everyone involved, a long list of people that includes competitors, judges, coaches, committee members senior leadership who support the rodeo and coworkers’ friends, colleagues, and families.
“They all truly represented PG&E to the highest degree,” Silva said.
Complete event results: Click here
PG&E/IBEW 1245 roster for 2021 International Lineman's Rodeo
Journeyman Team Competitors
Matt Mccurdy - Team 1 - Livermore
Seth Jones - Team 1 - Livermore
Marcus Mcllwain - Team 1 - Livermore
Adam Beene Team 2 – Merced
Anthony Albright Team 2 - Auburn
JP Richard Team 2 – Grass Valley
Shannon Spah - Team 3 – San Jose GC
Logan Schaffer - Team 3 - Stockton
Steve Bentley - Team 3 - Cupertino
Brandon Dance - Team 4 / Union Team Stockton
Dustin Curry - Team 4/ Union Team - Woodland
Nicholas Noriega - Team 4 / Union Team - Livermore
Alex Clardy - APPR 1 – Stockton GC
Aaron Sabato - APPR 2 - Lemoore
Francisco Villanueva - APPR 3 – Salinas GC
Austin Trevino -APPR 4 – Lemoore
Alex George - APPR 5 - Oroville
David Carlon - APPR 6 - Stockton
DJ Martinez - APPR 7 - Fresno
Andrew Partlow Team 1
Joe Holbert - Team 2
Sean McCall- Team 3
Jeff Rhinehart - Team 4
Rodney Crozier - Apprentice Coach
Bob Brock - Director Sponsor
Sid Silva - Rodeo Lead
Sabrina Silva - Logistics
Donovan Holland - Equipment Lead /Driver
Hector Vergara Jr.
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