GREEN  Portage Lakes Career Center (PLCC) students Isaac Romine and Daniel Knighton recently took first place at the 26th Annual Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association’s auto skills competition.

Romine and Knighton, both Green High School seniors, were competing with five teams of students from area schools. All teams had previously qualified for the competition which was held at the Cleveland Auto Show.

Students began with a three-hour test. The second part of the contest consisted of debugging a 2018 GMC Canyon. The competing students were given a time limit to trace, diagnose and fix the problems. The PLCC students were competing for their share of more than $25,000 in scholarship money.

Portage Lakes Career Center automotive students have competed in the competition for three years and have finished first the last two years. Knighton and Romine each won a $5,000 scholarship for Stark State, Tri-C or the University of Northwestern Ohio and a 200-piece tool kit. 

"I am extremely excited that, for the second year in a row, our students took first place," said Automotive Technology instructor Ron Balis.  

Balis said the competition began in January with four of his top students taking a 200-question written test at Tri-C in Parma. Approximately 15 schools participated at that location.

"If the combined scores of my four students placed us in the top five schools, my top two test takers move on to the hands-on competition at the IX Center," said Balis.

The four students that took the written test and placed PLCC in the top five were Noah Smith, Quentin Garcia, Knighton and Romine. Knighton and Romine had the top scores and moved on to the hands-on competition, which entailed work stations that included but, not limited to, electrical circuit testing, diagnosing wheel alignment issues and brake line flaring. Once that was completed, each of the five teams moved on to assigned vehicles. The GMC’s had multiple "bugs" that students had to diagnose and repair. The team came in first place by repairing the most items on the truck and by earning the most points at the other work stations.

The PLCC students said they were surprised that they won because, during the allotted time, they were only able to fix three of the five issues with the vehicle. They spoke about the research they did prior to the competition along with studying the GM scan tool. Balis said Knighton and Romine spent some of their own time going to a local college to get some training on a similar vehicle as well as training on GM's diagnostic scan tool and their online service information system. 

As for their future plans, Romine said he is joining the Air Force but hopes to use the scholarship money for schooling. He leaves for basic training in July.

Knighton plans to use the scholarship to help pay for some of his future schooling. He plans to attend the Ford ASSET program at Tri-C. Balis said,

"They did a great job representing themselves and PLCC," Balis said.