Photos provided by Twisted River Photography
Accurate location of underground utilities is of critical importance to the construction industry. Contractors rely on underground utility locators to accurately locate and mark underground utilities prior to excavation.
More than 100 of the industry’s best locators, representing 24 states and Canada, met in Atlanta, GA, in early August to compete for industry recognition, bragging rights, and cash prizes in the 7th Annual International Utility Locate Rodeo.
Tim Snyder of SMP Resources tackles a telecom locate challenge.
Held on the campus of Emory University, the event spotlights the "art and science" behind underground utility location.
The annual International Utility Locate Rodeo has been referred to as the "olympics of underground utility locating."
"Honoring these locate technicians in a profession that is often overlooked is the reason we do what we do," said Claudette Campbell, executive director of Georgia’s Utilities Protection Center Inc. (UPC), which hosted the event. "They provide the last line of defense in underground utility damage prevention that ultimately keeps America safe and connected."
"Participation in the International Utility Locate Rodeo recognizes outstanding achievements in the locating industry," added Matt Quinn, President of the National Utility Locate Contractors Association (NULCA) and president of ELM Locating & Utility Services. NULCA co-hosted this year’s event with UPC.
Tackling Tough Locate Challenges
During the Rodeo, competitors compete in one of four divisions – gas, power, telecom or water. Within their division they test their skills against three different real-world location challenges. Competitors have 12 minutes to complete each locate, and scores from all three locate challenges are combined to determine the winner. In the event of a tie, time serves as the tiebreaker.
An optional bonus event, known affectionately as the "Locate From Hell," is also available to any competitor who feels up to the challenge. In this extremely challenging event, locators have just three minutes to complete a single locate. Additionally, these competitors cannot use their own locating equipment but must choose locating equipment provided by one of the participating Rodeo Equipment Manufacturer sponsors. This year, 90 competitors accepted the "Locate From Hell" challenge.
At the end of the competition, first place winners in each division received $1000. Second place earned $500, and third earned $250. The total purse for the event is $8750. In addition, the Rodeo Equipment Manufacturer’s Challenge made it possible for first place winners to add up to $1000 more to their first place winnings by declaring use of sponsor’s equipment.
Underground Utility Locate Rodeo Winners
Winners of this year’s Rodeo included the following:
In the "Gas" category, overall first place honors went to James Dorminey, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Starke FL. Second place went to Phillip Randazzo, ELM Locating, Las Vegas, NV, with third place going to Ray Powell, One Vision, Richmond, VA. Individual event winners for the three locate challenges included Ray Proctor, Atlanta Gas Light, Atlanta, GA; Corey Downing, STS, Lawrenceville, GA; and Ray Powell, One Vision Services, Richmond VA.
First place honors in the "Power" category went to Robert Maney, Windstream Communications, Baldwin, GA. Second place went to Michael Regnier, ELM Locating, Bloomington, IL, while third place went to Herman Wilson, Utiliquest, Brooklyn Park, MD. Individual event winners in this category Herman Wilson, Utiliquest, Brooklyn Park, MD; David Gregory, Utiliquest, Jackson, MS; and Richard Ragner, CLS, Seattle, WA.
In the "Telecom" category, overall first place honors went to Tom Johnson, SM&P, Aubrey, TX. Richard Zuniga, Cobb Fendley & Associates, Houston, TX, took second place, and Allen Childs, Jr., Accurate Utility Locating and Associates, Jacksonville, FL, captured third. Individual event winners included Richard Zuniga, Cobb Fendley & Associates, Houston, TX; Tim Snyder, SM&P Utility Resources, WI; and Wally Wright, Level 3, Salt Lake City, UT.
Overall winners in the "Water" category included Rachel Boyd, Heath Consultants, Chattanooga, TN, first place; Eric West, West Locating, Inc., Hanahan, SC, second place; and Robert Dean, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Trenton, FL, third place. Individual event winners included Bruno Chavez, Utiliquest, Ventura, CA; Jason Griffin, One Vision Services, Kennesaw, GA; and Brad Warren, JEA, Jacksonville, FL
Winners of the "Locate From Hell" challenge included James Driscoll, Craig A. Smith & Associates, first place; Derek Turnbull, Promark Telecom, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, second place; and Jared McKeeth, ELM Locating, Ogden, UT, third place.
For more information about the Locate Rodeo, or for a look at previous years’ competitions, visit www.LocateRodeo.com.