Source: Sherman Publications

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Strong, Morawski win brake competition

by CJ Carnacchio

February 23, 2011

OHS sophomores Robert Morawski (left) and Paul Strong work on a drum brake assembly. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Glory isn't always achieved on some athletic field or in a classroom or even on a stage.

Sometimes glory is attained in an auto shop where greasy hands armed with wrenches and screwdrivers engage in the ultimate battle of man versus machine.

Oxford High School sophomores Paul Strong and Robert Morawski won that battle last week as they duked it out in the school's annual brake competition.

"It felt great," Strong said. "When I got home, my parents were real proud."

"It puts a lot of pressure on you, but if feels good to win," Morawski said.

Nearly 30 students competed in two-person teams to see who could completely disassemble and reassemble a drum brake assembly on two different vehicles.

Their work had to be both fast and correct.

Strong and Morawski claimed the mantle of victory with a combined time of 5 minutes, 59 seconds.

They tackled a Ford Ranger in 3 minutes, 21 seconds and a Plymouth Belvedere in 2 minutes, 38 seconds.

Coming in second was the team of Brian Ryalls and Justin Crouse with a time of 6 minutes, 26 seconds.

Taking third were Zach Lutey and John Chiera with a time of 6 minutes, 59 seconds.

Finishing fourth with a time of 7 minutes, 32 seconds was the team of Nick Lipari and Kyle Feeney.

For their efforts, all of the winners received a variety of prizes that included tool boxes, socket sets, screwdriver sets, spotlights and NASCAR headsets just like pit crews use.

Auto teacher Dan Balsley started the competition more than 20 years ago as a "training tool."

"I was looking for a motivator to get them interested in brakes," he explained. "When I present brakes in class, they're dirty and complicated. They don't want to touch them."

Make it a competition, throw in some terrific prizes and all of a sudden the students become brake masters.

"Nobody really wants a five-minute brake job, but these guys know them so well that I could dump brake parts on the floor and they could sort them out and assemble them properly. That's the knowledge I'm shooting for."

As always, the competition couldn't happen without generous local sponsors, which this year included Oxford Bank, Oxford McDonald's, Rotary Club of Oxford, Steve's Oxford Automotive, Wright Tool, Inc. and OHS.

"Thank you to the sponsors," Balsley said. "They have always come through, especially in these hard times. Not a single sponsor hesitated a bit and they all gave as much, if not more, than they did last year. It's pretty impressive."