GREEN RIVER – Cole Murray, a student at Green River High School, still can’t figure out he’s the third finalist in the National SkillsUSA Cabinetmaking Competition.

“It was exciting,” Murray said. “I still don’t think I got the whole ‘national’ part of third place, but seeing my photo appear on the podium was pretty impressive.

Murray was the state champion at the SkillsUSA state competition held in April in Casper, which qualified him to compete at the national level, which was held recently.

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“Winning the state skills competition was exhilarating. Going to Casper and competing was so much fun and hearing that I had won made it even better, ”said Murray.

Murray’s successes not only made him the first Green River student to be a state champion in cabinetmaking, but he also ranked highest among all GRHS students nationally, according to Tim Cassity, GRHS Vocational Education Teacher.

Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the national competition was held virtually in which students competed in the lumber shops of their local school. Cassity said Murray was to be filmed with two cameras as he made his hex box.

He was given a set of very detailed blueprints and drawings that he was to follow, and he only had six hours to complete. The final score was calculated using a technical assessment and a developed professional assessment.

“We had to send photos of his project with a tape measure next to it so they could check the measurements, so it was very competitive, and he faced all the state champions from all over the country,” he said. said Cassity.

Murray building his hexagonal box during the national competition. Courtesy photo

While not the typical national experience, Murray has found the silver lining in virtual competition.

“I was really excited to compete at the national level. Although Covid did not allow me to compete in person, I found it beneficial and less stressful to be home for the competition, ”said Murray.

Cassity said he was proud of Murray’s work and final product, saying the hex box was “flawless”.

“Cole made a flawless hex box. It was exceptional, and it couldn’t have been better, so I was very proud of him and how well it went, ”said Cassity. “He had to do all the jigs to do it too, so it was very impressive.”

Murray’s completed hex box. Courtesy photo

Murray said he had a passion for construction and that wood would be a natural fit for him to bring his ideas to life.

“I love to build things and wood is the best material to take the ideas in my head to the physical world. The best part of woodworking is the freedom to have an idea and just go out into the garage and have it done. I find it really rewarding to see an idea become a finished product, ”said Murray.

According to Cassity, Murray has an “engineering mind” and is able to approach every step of the woodworking process with an engineering mindset.

“I really think Cole has the mind of an engineer and plans, designs, evaluates and builds things like an engineer. Cole is an exceptional student in his Carpentry and Cabinetmaking courses at GRHS and does some very detailed projects, ”Cassity said.

If you ask Murray about his success, however, he gives Cassity immense credit for his guidance, leadership, and inspiration.

“I want to thank Mr. Cassity. He’s the reason I was able to compete and be competitive at state and national competitions, ”said Murray. “His passion for woodworking is what inspired me to take my skills to the next level. He’s a fantastic teacher, and none of my successes at SkillsUSA would have been without him.