SkillsUSA Competition Dominated by TMCC Students

Chef Karen, Jude Dreiflyn Solian, Cara Strasser, Gianna Logrecco, and Ann Barkdull stand smiling together after a victorious SkillsUSA competition.
Kate Kirkpatrick

Every spring, the Nevada SkillsUSA competition gathers students from throughout the Silver State to show off their knowledge for panels of judges who are industry volunteers. After honing their skills all year, TMCC students won many medals in the 2024 state competition, including sweeps in some categories.

“This competition speaks to the heart of what it means to be ‘work ready,’” said Dean of Technical Sciences Kim Harrell. “Students are given real-world tasks and apply their knowledge and skills to complete them under a tight deadline. It doesn’t get much more realistic than that!”

“The SkillsUSA competition is a great opportunity to come out of your box and gain confidence, as well as test your skills and knowledge,” said culinary arts student Marygel Tiong. “It was a fun and exciting experience, to say the least.”

“The competition was fast-paced, and the time passed quickly. Of course, the inevitable and inane after the time ends, should of, would of, and could of’s pass through your thoughts until they announce the final results,” said culinary arts student Cara Strasser.
“The competition is a time for participants to show their strengths and learn new skills,” added culinary, baking, and pastries arts student Gianna Logrecco.

Facing the Challenges Head-On

In this competition, there’s one thing you can count on for sure: a fast-paced environment. No matter how well-prepared you are, you may feel pressure as you strive to do your best in a timed event.

“Our students are hardworking and dedicated,” said Chef Karen Cannan. “It is so impressive how each of them embraces the challenge of competition, leading them to success. They are stars!”

“The most challenging part (of SkillsUSA), in my opinion, would be the practices,” said Logrecco. “During the practices, you’re trying to allow for the stress level, rather than during the competition. In my experience, I noticed I stress more during practices, and then the competition was so much fun, and I don’t even think of it like a competition.”

“The competition at first appears as an insurmountable challenge to complete five baked items within a short time frame,” added Strasser. “However, the guidance provided by the instructors and their culinary team on time-saving processes without sacrificing quality and practice reveals that it is possible.”

“The most challenging part for me was trying not to overthink. I tend to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself and stress myself out,” said Tiong.

“Battling between the time restraints and finishing the product at the desired quality was the most challenging part. Sometimes you need to back away and know you have done your best,” Strasser concluded.

Congratulations to all of this year’s TMCC and dual-enrolled students who were recognized, including:

Architecture, High School
Bronze: Veronica Solis Lopez (ACE/TMCC)

Baking & Pastry, College
Gold: Cara Strasser
Silver: Jude Drieflyn Solian
Bronze: Gianna Logrecco

Culinary, College
Gold: Marygel Tiong
Silver: Nicole Romero
Bronze: Riley Hook

Diesel, High School
Bronze: Bryce Tisdale (ACE/TMCC)

Diesel, College
Gold: Sergio Parra Venegas
Silver: Thomas Eli Legott
Bronze: Parker Martin

Machining, High School
Gold: Kevin Jones (ACE/TMCC)
Silver: Robert Fernandez (ACE/TMCC)
Bronze: Brad Dodd-Bailor (ACE/TMCC)

Welding, AACT
Gold: Greyson Will (AACT/TMCC)
Bronze: Ben Sandusky (AACT/TMCC)
Gold, Welding Fabrication Team: Joey Sandusky, Liam Chandler Isacksen, and Tyler Larsen (AACT/TMCC)

Welding, College
Gold: Walter McClaskey
Silver: Danger Gregory Niko Lund
Bronze: Adrian Palayo Rios

Students who win Gold Awards in their state competitions receive an invitation to the national SkillsUSA Championships, billed as “the premier showcase of America’s most highly skilled career and technical education students.” Over 6,000 state competitors compete in 115 skilled and leadership competitions. The June 2024 event will be at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA.

“I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished and excited to see what the future will bring,” Logrecco said.

“Now that the competition is over, the stress is still there, but so is the excitement. I will be going to Atlanta in June for the Nationals. So I will be practicing my dishes from now until then,” said Tiong.

“I am pleased with the results. There are things I could have done better, of course, but now I know where my weaknesses lie, I can work toward correcting them to create a better product,” Strasser added.

Cannan reports that she and Chef Craig Rodrigue will accompany student medalists Strasser and Tiong to Atlanta for the national competition; diesel student medalist Walter McClaskey and welding student medalist Greyson Will are also competing.

Please see the Culinary Arts department and Technical Sciences division for more information.