SPONSORED: Duke Energy linemen rope in 18 awards at world rodeo competition with apprentice winning

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Duke Energy linemen roped in 18 awards at the International Lineman's Rodeo Oct. 14 in Bonner Springs, Kan.

The company sent 18 competitors from Florida. Jonathan Dunn, Michael Leininger and Donald Williams finished in the top 25 in three categories. Clay Baxter, Sean Cooke and Josh Wilson finished in the top 25 in two categories. Both teams are from Central Florida.

The big winner was Bryan Minikel, a lineman apprentice from Cary, N.C., who took home the world champion apprentice title.

Minikel also earned the top apprentice title in the investor-owned utility division and won first place in the apprentice written test.

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“This award is a tremendous blessing in my life,” said Minikel, who has been a Duke Energy employee for nearly four years. “I worked hard to prepare for the competition, but I couldn’t have earned the award on my own. Being a lineman is truly a brotherhood and you look out for each other – everyone wants you to succeed and I had a lot of support behind me.”

Tyler Manick, a lineman apprentice from Old Fort, N.C., placed second in the world, second in the apprentice written test and second in the investor-owned utility division.

Trey Grissom, a lineman apprentice from Roxboro, N.C., placed fifth in the world and fourth in the investor-owned utility division.

Other lineman apprentice award winners include George Gripshover from Burlington, Ky., placing fifth in the investor-owned utility division, third in the written test and third in mystery event one and Miles Bell based in Spindale, N.C., placing fifth in the pole speed climb.

A lineman journeyman team based in New Bern, N.C., placed fourth in the world. The team consists of Dan King, Brent Whitford and Stephen Cox. The team also placed second in the investor-owned utility division and fourth in the simulated hurt-man rescue event.

A journeyman team based in western North Carolina placed fourth in the investor-owned utility division. The team is comprised of Joey Wilson of Franklin, N.C., Luke Leatherman of Arden, N.C., and Jeff Porter of Cullowhee, N.C.

Two teams took home awards in the second mystery event announced the day before competition designed to simulate unexpected challenges on a job. Mark Perkinson, Josh Greguire and Jeramy Wilson of eastern North Carolina took home first place with Sandy Barnhill, Keith Griffin and Jay Tipton, all of the Asheville, N.C. area, taking home fifth place.

To see pictures and learn more about each of the winners, click here. The content and high-resolution photos are available for your use.

All Duke Energy participants at the rodeo earned their spots by competing in regional Duke Energy competitions in 2016 and 2017. 

An apprentice is a line worker with less than four years of utility experience, and a rodeo journeyman has greater than four years of utility experience. 

Linemen were tested on simulated hurt-man rescues, equipment repair and pole climbs while being judged on speed, agility, technique and safety procedures at the International Lineman’s Rodeo competition. 

The best lineworkers at Duke Energy and its legacy companies have showcased their talents at the International Lineman’s Rodeo for more than 20 years. Duke Energy lineworkers took home 12 awards in 2015 and 11 in 2014.

About Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The Foundation provides more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The Foundation's education focus spans kindergarten to career, particularly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. It also supports the environment and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture.

Duke Energy employees and retirees actively contribute to their communities as volunteers and leaders at a wide variety of nonprofit organizations. Duke Energy is committed to building on its legacy of community service. For more information, visit duke-energy.com/foundation.

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