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THS student reigns supreme at state fair
Cole Marchy
Turlock High School student Cole Marchy was recently named the Overall Winner at the California State Fair where he won Best In Show, Best Weld and Premiere Exhibitor for his Ag Mechanics project. - photo by Photo Contributed

As Turlock High School student Cole Marchy prepares for the start of the Stanislaus County Fair this weekend, his summer has already been one filled with success. The soon-to-be senior and FFA member cleaned up shop at the California State Fair this weekend, earning three first place awards and the prestigious title of Overall Winner out of the event’s countless exhibitors.

Since February, Marchy has been hard at work on his Ag Mechanics project — a high-volume side dump trailer that earned him Best in Show, Best Weld and Premiere Exhibitor. The recognition was well-deserved, as Marchy logged roughly 30 hours of work per week on the project while completing his junior year of high school, adding up to about 700 hours of total labor.

“My mom always says, ‘Don’t count yourself out,’ and I didn’t count myself out this year,” Marchy said. “They usually don’t give all of the awards to one kid and try to spread the wealth since there are so many projects, but this year things changed. When I heard my name called, I was very shocked.”

Marchy first began welding out on his family farm, he said, and began to take it seriously when he entered his sophomore year. While the THS ag shop is where he honed his welding skills, he completed his most recent, award-winning project at Merced College while taking a fabrication class.

Marchy’s high-volume side dump trailer stands out from others like it, he said, because it’s meant to be pulled by a semi-truck, rather than a tractor. This allows for the trailer to haul larger loads of compost, manure, or other product. The idea came as a collaborative effort between Marchy and his mentor, Dominic Assali of Double D Dairy.

“He’s the one I’m trying to be like,” Marchy said. “We decided that instead of putting all of that weight down onto a tractor, which puts a lot of stress on it, we would put it onto a semi. It fits his needs; you can haul stuff from dairy to dairy a lot faster, and it’s much more efficient.”

Completing the project’s welds in an unfamiliar ag shop was a challenge, Marchy said, as the shop at THS allows for more mobility when welding. While at the high school a project can be flipped and turned to achieve the easiest angle of welding, the Merced College shop didn’t provide such capabilities. Marchy often found himself performing “out-of-position,” he said, welding overhead and vertically.

“This project really helped my welding skills because I was able to do those and still make them look good,” Marchy said. “They’re not something easy and not something everyone can do right off the bat.”

Marchy’s trailer is able to haul 33 cubic yards of product, he said, and is also unique in that it features a walking beam axle rather than a center pivot. This allows it to handle even more weight, he said.

“If you break that then you really overloaded it,” Marchy said. “It’s basically bulletproof.”

Marchy is a product of a THS Ag Mechanics program that has seen much success throughout the years. The THS FFA took home a group award at the California State Fair as well, winning the Ag Mechanics Chapter Group award. Being in FFA has not only provided Marchy with some of his greatest accomplishments, he said, but experiences as well.

He credits the THS ag shop as whole, along with his teacher Joe Digrazia and Assali, for his success.

“I’ve been up and down the state of California…you see so many different FFA members from across the country and I’ve met so many people and lifelong friends. It helps you in the industry, too — you meet people who will possibly be your boss one day or help you in your career,” he said. “If you put the time and effort in, you can go really far in the FFA. It’s so much more than just showing at the fair.”

Marchy’s project will be on display at the Stanislaus County Fair, which begins its 10-day run on Friday.