PITTSBURG — Mack O’Dell reluctantly joined the masonry program at Career and Technical Education Center of Crawford County his sophomore year.
O’Dell, now a junior at Pittsburg High School receiving dual credit at CTEC, travels each weekday to Pittsburg’s east industrial park where he works on his craft from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. O’Dell won a regional masonry contest and will now head to Las Vegas to compete in the World of Masonry contest.
“He’s amazing, one of the best students I have ever had,” Nacoma Oehme said. Nacoma’s father, Glenn, originally talked O’Dell into joining the masonry program.
O’Dell’s talents led him to win a regional competition in October 2015. The competition was hosted at CTEC’s location in Pittsburg’s east industrial park. He competed against roughly six people with similar amounts of experience.
Contestants were given a few hours to construct a 4 foot long by 3 foot tall brick wall. Then, judges looked at measurements, if the wall was level and how the mason handled themselves and tools.
All of the instructors at CTEC are employed through Fort Scott Community College, who will be paying for O’Dell’s trip to Las Vegas.
“It’s huge, he is going to compete against people from all over the world,” Oehme said
O’Dell will be leave on Feb. 1. and compete later in the week. The competition lasts six hours and, again, O’Dell will compete against masons with similar amounts of experience.
Although, Oehme said some competitors could be apprentices and practice masonry on a full time basis.
“In real life there is competition, you will always be competing against the next guy,” Oehme said. “It shows them that to be successful in life you have to be competitive.”
O’Dell placed seventh at a national competition in Kentucky last year. He said he is nervous about competing in an international competition, but thought the nerves would cease when the competition begins.
“When you get in there, it is like laying (bricks) in class,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell welcomes any challengers who think masonry is easy. His friend, Josh Newport, took the invitation while O’Dell was building a brick mailbox for Newport’s parents.
After laying just two bricks, Newport realized the job was a daunting task.
‘You are going to have to re-lay those.”’ O’Dell recalls Newport saying.
CTEC had a student place third at the World of Masonry contest two years ago.
“It shows the level of education these students are being provided that they are going out and being able to compete on an international level,” said Michelle Hucke, executive director at CTEC. “We have incredible instructors out here who are masters at their craft.”
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.