GRHS Vocational Department Fabricates Thoman Wrestling Tournament Trophies

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Tom Wilson and Aaron Locker pose next to the trophies they and their students fabricated for the Thoman Soda Ash Memorial Wrestling Tournament.

GREEN RIVER– The teams that place in the top three at the Thoman Wrestling Tournament will go home with a trophy that was completely designed and fabricated by the Green River High School welding and autos departments.

For the past few years, the Green River High School vocational department has played a role in creating the trophies for the Thoman Wrestling Tournament, but this year they decided to take over the fabrication completely.

Tom Wilson, GRHS welding teacher, and Aaron Locker, GRHS autos teacher, collaborated with a few students to design and build the trophies.

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“It’s our hometown tournament, so it’s nice to be able to attach our own product to that,” Wilson said.

The Fabrication Process

The creation of the trophies began back in August 2018 with brainstorming. Looking at ideas online and seeing what other people have done, the students melded their ideas together to create one unique concept for the trophies.

Once the initial concept was decided, they created a prototype out of paper. The prototype acted as a rough draft so they could figure out how the piece would fit together and if it was proportionate.

GRHS senior and wrestler Garrett Harris was the primary student responsible for cutting out the paper prototype. Wilson and Locker said Harris played a big role in creating the trophies.

Student Colton Zinn did a lot of the body work, and student and wrestler Kade Knezovich painted the black on the base of the trophies. Student Rex Wardell also helped out with the trophies. Several other welding and autos kids helped out, as well.

“We’re really just the direction givers,” Wilson said of himself and Locker. “The kids actually did almost everything, and that’s how we want it to be.”

After the paper prototype, they put it on the computer. Wilson said once it’s on the computer, the thinking is done, and the rest is manual labor.

Volunteer teacher Terry Neilson did the basic welding, and then once the trophies were put together, the welding department turned them over to Locker and the autos students.

“They make it all look good,” Wilson said.

Locker said he could see the nervousness in his students when it came time to paint the trophies.

“That’s the finished project, so that’s high stress,” Locker said.

Gaining Valuable Industry Experience

Wilson and Locker agreed that the fabrication of the trophies was a valuable experience for their students, as it showed the exact process they are having their students use while working on their projects in class.

“It starts with brainstorming, and then you meld together ideas to come up with one of your own that’s unique. Then you follow the process of making a paper prototype and putting it onto the computer, and then comes the labor, putting it together,” Wilson said.

The trophies gave a great example of the fabrication process in action.

Locker said that for his autos students, they underwent the same procedure while making the trophies as they will use to refinish a panel on a car.

“They experienced what you’ll do in industry,” Locker said. “It’s turning out a product that is quality and desirable.”

Wilson and Locker also pointed out that the trophies provided a great opportunity for the students to collaborate between different industrial departments.

“In an auto shop, you have the body work people and you have the painters, and they’ve got to be able to work together. In a welding shop, you have the production and fabrication, and then you have the beautification side of it,” Locker said.

Photo by Darren Howard


Pride in a Product They Made

Making the trophies appears to be bittersweet, as the students had the opportunity to create a quality product, but now they have to watch them leave the school.

“I had several students who helped with the paint and body work on those trophies, and you could tell they want that trophy to stay here at the school,” Locker said.

Locker added that one of the more difficult aspects of the creation of the trophies was making them neutral, knowing at least two of them will be going home with other teams.

The trophies gave the students a great opportunity to not only create a project for themselves, but for others, and the students had no knowledge of who the trophies will be awarded to.

“This is real,” Locker said. “You’re producing a product that’s going to be sold, figuratively speaking. That work really means something.”

Overall, from the concept to the final bolt, Wilson and Locker think 50 man hours went into the creation of the trophies between them and the students.

“We just really want the kids who are putting this together to feel good about what they’ve produced,” Wilson said.

The trophies will be awarded to the top three teams of the Thoman Wrestling Tournament later today, January 5.

“It’s kind of interesting to see who gets them,” Locker said. “I want to see the looks on their faces.”