PG&E Linemen Collect Honors at International Rodeo
2022 Rodeo was Largest in History of Event
By Benjamin Spillman
BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. — PG&E journeyman and apprentice linemen on Saturday once again proved they belong with the best of the best of line crews from throughout North America.
Six teams of three journeymen and six apprentices representing PG&E and IBEW 1245 competed at the 38th International Lineman’s Rodeo in Bonner Springs, Kan.
Among the award winners, the team of Jordan Ralls, Ben Boardway and Carson Penny won third place overall among all journeyman teams, second place among investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and fifth place in the journeyman mystery event two; the team of Dustin Curry, Brandon Dance and Francisco Flores won fifth place among IOUs; apprentice Francisco Villanueva won third place among IOU apprentices and fifth in mystery event one; and apprentice Alex Clardy won fourth place among IOU apprentices.
The event is the largest of its kind and draws thousands of line workers to compete in skills such as a hurt man rescue and pole climb.
The competition, which is held using deenergized poles, lines and other hardware, is held on the grounds of the National Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Line workers earn the right to compete by placing among the top finishers at regional events, such as the PG&E/IBEW 1245 West Coast Lineman’s Rodeo in Livermore.
“This is like our Super Bowl,” said Sid Silva, who leads PG&E’s Rodeo Committee, the group that organizes the West Coast event and coordinates travel and logistics for the international.
The 2022 rodeo was unique in that it drew one of the biggest and most competitive fields for the nearly 40-year-old event.
Line workers who competed truly were going against the best in their craft.
Journeyman Zach Doty, based in Bakersfield, said consistency and smoothness are keys to success. But when the clock is running and an audience of friends, family and coworkers are watching it’s not as easy as the competitors make it look.
“My heart is coming out of my chest,” Doty said shortly after his team completed their events. “But as soon as you take off it’s time to get it done.”
Journeyman Mike Vaughn, based in Wasco, said “the nerves are definitely there,” but added the pressure contributes to the thrill of the experience.
“It’s just a fun environment,” he said.
Jeff Deal, vice president of electric distribution, said it was a thrill to attend the event in person. Deal said he’d been to the West Coast event, but it was his first time seeing the international competition.
“It’s an amazing event,” Deal said.
The scope of the event served as a reminder of the importance of utility line work, and utility line workers, to the safety and security of the entire country.
“Line workers are the backbone of our company and really the backbone of the United States,” Deal said. “You see people who come here from all over who built the infrastructure that makes our country what it is.”
Ahmad Ababneh, electric operations vice president of projects and construction, said it’s important to see and experience how the best workers at the nation’s top utilities are improving and evolving to meet new challenges.
“It’s an opportunity for our teams to come and compete and at the same time learn from the industry and their peers,” Ababneh said. “There are new work methods, new tools and technologies to help our coworkers work safely.”
Complete list of competitors
Journeyman Team 1
· Logan Schaffer
· Anthony Albright
· JP Richard
Journeyman Team 2
· Jordan Ralls
· Ben Boardway
· Carson Penny
Journeyman Team 3
· Justin Schuppert
· Drew Fitzgerald
· Mike Baker
IBEW Journeyman Team 4
· Brandon Dance
· Dustin Curry
· Francisco Flores
Journeyman Team 5
· Matt Mccurdy
· Seth Jones
· Marcus Mcllwain
IBEW Journeyman Team 6
· Scott Salyers
· Michael Vaughn
· Zach Doty
· Austin Trevino
· Francisco Villanueva
· Jonathan Pacheco
· Alex Clardy
· Daniel Lofstrand/IBEW
· Cody Jackson/IBEW
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