BRADENTON -- Manatee County students excelled Thursday at the 2016 Region 6 Florida SkillsUSA competitions.
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Manatee Technical College students won 53 gold, 27 silver, and 20 bronze medals.
More than 430 students from nine schools from five counties competed. Two Manatee District high schools competed in the secondary events: Bayshore High School and Southeast High School.
A highlight of the competition: Manatee Technical College students won first and second in one of the stiffest competitions: the college division of automotive service technology. Dustin Brown won gold, and Joshua Hobbs won silver.
Other notable wins for MTC in the college division: Matika Liptrot won first in commercial baking, Brittney Beers won first in cosmetology and Daniel Hahn won gold in marine service technology.
Joshua Wood, Ryan Admundsen, and Anthony Benafield took all three medals in automotive refinishing technology.
Cesar Lugo took bronze in culinary arts.
In the high school division, MTC students Lizbeth Pina, Maria Diaz-Lopez, and Jennifer Ovalte swept first, second and third place in nail care.
Daisy Caballero won gold in medical terminology.
Isaiah Larkin took bronze in automotive service technology.
Bayshore High School students Junito Berry and Rachael Cook won gold in robotics: urban search and rescue.
Southeast High School swept the high school divisions of television (video) production and broadcast news production, taking first, second and third in both contests.
Prior to the winners being announced at the end of the day-long conference, Doug Wagner, director of MTC and Adult Career and Technical Education for the School District, told the crowd of more than 400 students: "If you learned something new today, if you met one new person, if you did the best you could, you're a winner. Everyone who participates in SkillsUSA is a winner."
Students competed in 46 skill contests and seven leadership contests; most contests had college and high school divisions, and some were team events. Most skills and leadership contests were held at the Manatee Technical College main campus on State Road 70. The health care-related competitions were held at the east campus on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
The first- and second-place winners in all contest categories advance to state competitions April 24-27 in Lakeland.
SkillsUSA is a national organization that promotes excellence, employability skills and ethics to students in career and technical education to better prepare them for successful careers.