The masonry program at Mount Pleasant High School has a long and storied history of success, and the latest chapter in that story bears the name of Cory Huneycutt.
Last month, he won first place at the International Skills Competition at the World of Masonry convention in Las Vegas, Nev.
The competition is like the Super Bowl of masonry, said Huneycutt's former teacher, Ryan Shaver. Huneycutt, a 2010 Mount Pleasant High School graduate, was the first from his school to enter that national contest.
Shaver called him "my model masonry student." Though he didn't take masonry classes until his junior year, Huneycutt was a natural, full of "God-given talent," Shaver said. That skill, coupled with an outstanding work ethic, has allowed Huneycutt to score big at the national level.
Huneycutt said he faced some challenges when he arrived for the competition. First, he had somehow been entered in the Second Year Apprentice category, instead of First Year Apprentice. So he had to go up against more experienced guys.
Then, he said, they had to complete a project the likes of which he had never seen.
In such competitions, the apprentices are given a project - a picture with measurements - to build in three hours. During hours of practice, he worked from project plans and built every category of design, but the one given in competition was unique. Huneycutt described it as sort of lightning bolt shape.
During the three hours he worked on it, Huneycutt couldn't talk with anyone, but an audience watched him the entire time. He wasn't nervous, he said, perhaps because he is used to being in the spotlight from his days pitching for Mount Pleasant's baseball team.
Huneycutt's score earned him a first-place finish and prizes, including a trophy, tools and a monetary award.
Shaver, who accompanied him to Las Vegas along with Huneycutt's family, said his heart was in his toes as he waited for Huneycutt's name to be called as a winner.
For Huneycutt, one of the best things about winning is that he continues Mount Pleasant masonry students' tradition of excellence.
Now Huneycutt is studying construction management at Western Carolina University. He's hoping to start his own company this summer.
He's learned a lot from his classes and from last summer's job at Alward Masonry, the company that sponsored him for this competition.
But Cory Huneycutt's hard work and dedication to his craft, added to his head knowledge, combine to make him an impressive young man and national champion.