SMECO Linemen Compete in Gaff ‘n’ Go Rodeo

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative’s (SMECO) linemen work long hours to keep the power flowing to more than 156,000 homes and businesses in the region. The job requires not just physical ability and technical knowledge but also attention to safety. Recently, 14 SMECO linemen tested their skills at the Gaff ‘n’ Go Lineman’s Rodeo held at the Caroline County Fairgrounds in Ruther Glen, Virginia.

The rodeo drew more than 120 participants from 19 electric utilities and contractors in seven states. They competed in events that tested their agility, skill, and safe work practices. Teams of linemen climbed poles to change transformers and insulators. Individual competitors navigated vertical obstacle courses and participated in mock rescues of injured workers. The winners were the ones who completed their tasks the fastest while making the fewest mistakes.

Among the 50 apprentice competitors at this year’s Gaff ‘n’ Go were SMECO apprentices Chris Drury, Cory Higgs, John King, Jacob Moore, and Mike Swann. SMECO journeyman linemen Scott Gagliardi, Jeremy Green, Bobby Hamilton, Brent Hancock, Doug Hancock, Daniel Hutchins, Brian Rawlings, Josh Reithmeyer, and Will Robertson competed in three-member team events.

SMECO linemen Scott Gagliardi, Bobby Hamilton, and Josh Reithmeyer won the top prize of Overall Journeyman Team, the C.T. Bryant Award. The team scored a total of 495.3 points with a combined time of 48 minutes, 14 seconds, just 17 seconds ahead of the second place team. The C.T. Bryant award, named after the original organizer of the Gaff ‘n’ Go Rodeo, is presented to the team with the highest combination of points and times earned in the following five events. Hurt Man Rescue, Climbing Skills Demonstration, CPR with AED, 600-Amp Switch change-out, and Cross Arm Change-out.

In the Gaff ‘n’ Go TEREX Truck Rodeo, SMECO employees Brent Hancock, Doug Hancock, and Daniel Hutchins took second place in the Digger Derrick Obstacle. SMECO linemen Jeremy Green, Brian Rawlings, and Will Robertson took second in the Pole Load event.

In the Journeyman Lineman team events Jeremy Green, Brian Rawlings, and Will Robertson took second in the Cross Arm Change Out with a time of 10:47, just three seconds from first place. The three-man team took third place in the Hurt Man Rescue with a time of 1:40, just 10 seconds from first place.

SMECO apprentice linemen competed individually in the following events: Apprentice Climbing Skills Demonstration, Mike Swann, third place with a time of 2:46, just 17 seconds from first place; Re-Fuse Cutout, John King, third place, with a time of 1:45, just 11 seconds from first place; and CPR with AED, Mike Swann, third place.

In addition to the competitors, SMECO employees Joseph Day, David Lindsey, and Robert Wood served as judges for the Rodeo, and Chris Gallahan, Jay Herbert, Scott Horn, Steve Maddox, Hal Spence, and Tony Suttle assisted with setting up utility poles and other equipment before the event. Steve Gardiner and Mike Nygaard also served on the rodeo committee which organized the competition.