A seasoned team of Nashville ES journeymen and an apprentice from Jackson, Tenn., EA were the Valley’s top finishers in the recent APPA Lineman Rodeo.

The Nashville ES team of Tommy Barksdale, Cody Roberts, Timmy Sanford and Michael Shannon placed fourth in the Journeyman Division, while Michael Darby of Jackson EA placed second in the Apprentice competition, just behind champion Curtis Blase of Westerville, Ohio, ED.

Memphis LG&W apprentice Miguel Calderon finished second in the load transfer event, while journeyman teams from CDE Lightband (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Huntsville Utilities were among those representing the Valley as well.

“We at TVPPA are proud of all those guys,” said TVPPA Training Manager Caleb Hall, who was on hand in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the rodeo and APPA’s annual E&O Conference. “Each of them competed hard and, more importantly, represented their utilities – and the Valley in general – with class.”

When the competitors hit the field in Colorado Springs, Colo., they were greeted by temperatures in the mid-20s and blowing snow. NES’ Sanford said his team’s first event – a 12-kV pole transfer with hot sticks – was the toughest with which they could have started.

“There was snow and ice on everything,” he said. “I knew it would set us back.”

Even so, the NES team finished third in that event and went on to place fourth overall. Roberts said that while he and his teammates were there to win, they were proud of their showing.

“You’re never satisfied when you don’t win,” he said, “but to walk that [award-dinner] stage in the top five of 78 teams was no disappointment. Not at all. There were 73 teams that didn’t get to walk that stage.”

Jackson EA’s Darby took the field in Colorado Springs already ahead of the game, with a second-place showing on the previous day’s written test. On the field, he had but two deductions – one of which was maddeningly last-second.

“In the service-connector event, I was coming down and cut out about 10 feet short of the ground,” he said.

Bill Taylor, Jackson EA’s electric superintendent, pronounced himself “tickled to death” with Darby’s showing.

“I’m very proud – not just of Mike, but of all our apprentices who competed,” he said. “We strive to develop our apprentices by giving them a well-rounded scope of experience, and I’d put ours up against anyone’s.”

Darby, Sanford, Roberts, Shannon and Barksdale all said they plan to compete in the 2019 Tennessee Valley Lineman Rodeo, set for June 21-22 at Lenoir City, Tenn. Roberts and Sanford have been on NES teams that have won the last three Valley Rodeo team titles, while Barksdale was the Valley Rodeo’s 2017 individual journeyman champion.