By Diana Bowley of the news staff - DEXTER - Twenty-nine vocational students from throughout the state demonstrated their truck-driving skills during the state vocational-technical high school truck-driving competition held Friday in Dexter.
Students from Westbrook Regional Vocational Center, Region 8 Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, Region 9 Vocational Center in Mexico, and Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter maneuvered tractor-trailer rigs and straight trucks through a maze of orange cones in front of an audience of spectators and state commercial truck examiners.
Danielle Gould of Rockland was the only girl to participate.
The overall school winner in the Class B straight truck division was Westbrook, and the Class A tractor-trailer driving competition winner was Region 8.
Among the participants was Douglas Gnade, a junior at Tri-County. Perched behind the wheel of his school's Freightliner on Friday, the 6-foot-tall student said he was confident about his driving abilities. He said classroom instructor Dale Gerald had spent considerable time preparing Tri-County students for the course, and had devoted a good deal of time for on-the-road instruction.
Extremely composed behind the wheel, Gnade skillfully maneuvered the truck through the cones, both driving forward and backing up. It did take him a few moments to align the truck within the first set of cones because space was cramped at Dexter's public works facility off Railroad Avenue.
"Yes, I did it," he shouted, obviously pleased with his performance, especially the alley dock and reverse offset competition. "Backing is the toughest part," he said as he waved his hand to the various mirrors that bedecked the rig. "There's a lot of mirrors, and they are all for something different."
Gnade, who scored 369 out of 575 points, said he wants to attend college and plans to pay for it by driving a long-haul truck during his summers.
On Thursday, the students participated in a written test and watched demonstrations.
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