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Wagoner finds friendship, peace at Mitchell Tech

Forrest Wagoner (Power Line Construction and Maintenance ’22, Electrical Utilities and Substation Technology ’23) encourages students to “get out of your hometown and go travel. I grew so much because I left my hometown of Melrose, Mont., and came to Mitchell, S.D.”

“I found Mitchell Tech to be a place that I could really work on myself and grow,” he said. “It sounds corny, and I don’t know what it is about it, but I just found this peace in my mind in Mitchell that I was able to just enjoy life. I would have never imagined that, having the mountains in Montana and all of the fishing and hunting I could want, and I get thrown into this new type of environment with farmland and I was able to kind of take a step back and grow and just experience it.”

Shortly after arriving on campus, Wagoner, who had never rodeoed competitively, was recruited to compete on the MTC Mavericks team after a chance encounter with coach Jimmie Nicolaus. That experience changed his life, both in the rodeo arena and outside it. Building off natural instincts and true grit, Wagoner accepted the coaching Nicolaus provided. When he wasn’t climbing power poles or riding, Wagoner ran and lifted weights to build up his strength and endurance for the sport, consistently improving his ride, rodeo after rodeo.

“It kept me away from some other dangerous things I could be doing. It gave me a place to put my mind toward something and work toward a truly challenging task. It also gave me time in the hotel to study for my tests and do my homework,” he said, adding that a fellow Maverick and roommate, inspired him to keep his studies a priority. “It gave me a little break between school. Sometimes the Power Line program would get really (intense) and I would get behind in my other schoolwork. Then, I’d go to a rodeo, and I would have time in the hotel to focus on schoolwork in the hotel.”

 

During his first year of college, Wagoner grew new friendships within the Mavericks team and decided to extend his stay in Mitchell by taking on a second year of study. Wagoner convinced teammate and friend, Garrett Varilek (Power Line Construction and Maintenance ’22, Progressive Welding ’23), to join him, and they shared an apartment their second year of college.

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