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Hilmar FFA earns another state victory
2012 Ag Mechanics Team 2
Members of the Hilmar High FFA Ag Mechanics team pose for a picture. They are, from left to right: Dick Piersma, coach, James Piersma, assistant coach, Austin Jones, Paul Khodikian, Jerry Pimentel, and Trey Johnston. - photo by Photo Contributed

Hilmar High School FFA has made a few more additions to the program's state championship trophy case. Two of the Career Development Event Teams, also known as judging teams, won the State Championship in their respective areas.
The Small Engines team took home the state title at the Fresno Field Day in April. The three members of the team are Lucas Real, Andrew Vieira and Josh Vierra. All three placed highly as individuals as well. Real took first, Vierra earned second place and Vieira was 11th in the individual category. Real and Vieira, who are both juniors, are second year members of the team. Vierra, a senior, was competing in his first year in small engines, but he is no stranger to winning as he was a member of the state winning Farm Power team last year.
The Small Engines contest consists of four parts: Part and Tool ID, Engine Theory, Problem Solving and Troubleshooting. Each member competes individually in the first three areas, but work together in the Troubleshooting portion of the contest. The team placed first in both Part and Tool ID and Problem Solving and second in Engine Theory.
The Small Engines Team is coached by Dave Segna, who has been teaching in the Hilmar High School Ag Department for the past 19 years. He also coached state winning teams in 2006 and 2010.
At the State Finals contest held at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo on May 5, the Ag Mechanics team came home victorious. The team members included Austin Jones, Trey Johnston, Paul Khodikian and Jerry Pimentel. Individually, Johnston placed fourth, Jones took fifth, Khodikian placed 11th and Pimentel was 34th overall. Jones, Khodikian and Pimentel are seniors and have been on the team for four, three and two years respectively. Johnston is a sophomore and this was his first year competing in Ag Mechanics. Like Vierra, he is also a two-time state champion having been a member of last year's state winning Dairy Products team.
In the Ag Mechanics contest, the team members compete individually in the following areas: Arc Welding, Oxy-Fuel Welding, Cold Metal, Surveying, Problem Solving and ID/Written Test. The team placed first in Cold Metal, Oxy-Fuel Welding and ID/Written Test. In addition, they placed third in Problem Solving, fourth in Surveying and fifth in Arc Welding. As the state winner, the Ag Mechanics team has earned the right to compete at the National Contest in Indianapolis, Ind. this coming October.
Dick Piersma is the coach of the team. He has taught at Hilmar for the past 20 years and this is his second state winning team in Ag Mechanics. In 2009 his state champion team went on to win the National Ag Mechanics Contest.
Both teams put in countless hours during the year at practice and individually to develop the skills necessary to succeed. The teams also travelled many miles attending various field days throughout the state beginning in February and culminating in their respective state finals competition.