Students Earn Top Spot in State Auto Skills Competition


WINCHESTER, Va. - The dynamic student duo of Connor Watson and Sam Leisch, put their passion for automobiles to the test and came out on top in the Virginia Ford and AAA student auto skills competition.

"There was a lot of competition there, and a lot of tough competition there," said Sam Leisch, student at Sherando High School. "It was really hot and it was just nerve-wracking. Once you get past your own nerves, that is a lot of it."

They claimed a top five spot as they competed against nine other teams in the 90-minute challenge, to find and correct 10 built-in problems in a 2014 Ford Fiesta.

"I felt proud that I was even able to get there and was able to support my community and school," said Connor Watson, student at Sherando High School.

"You know when I first came into this, I wasn't all that confident because I didn't think I knew all that much; but when you really sit down and think about it and what really could be wrong, that surprised me,” said Leisch. "Connor and I did really well."

The students got an edge in the competition with the help of the Malloy Ford dealership that let them study beforehand the same car used in the competition.

"It definitely makes you feel good, but when it’s based locally and you are taking young kids and helping them build their life, it’s not a better feeling," said  Collin Kelly, general manager at Malloy Ford Dealership. 

"We couldn't have got where we got without Malloy's help and it really helped us diagnose and troubleshoot common problems that was wrong with the car," said Leisch.

The students were taught their auto skills through the Dowell J. Howard Center. Through the competition, they earned many prizes but the most important to them was the more than $5,000 in scholarship money.

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