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Calipatria captures silver medals

April 18, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO — Goo's guys did it again.

Two Calipatria High School students trained by Calipatria High shop teacher Wilton Goo and one of his former protégés won silver medals in separate welding competitions at the state finals of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America's "Skills Olympics."

The competitions were last weekend at San Bernardino Valley College. To get invited to the state finals, the Calipatria High students, junior Joshua Balancio and senior Russell Fischer, and Imperial Valley College's Jose Luis Cardenas, a former Calipatria Hornet, won gold medals at regional competitions in Victorville recently.

For Joshua and Russell, the trip to "state" was their first. Cardenas, meanwhile, is an old pro at 19, having won numerous medals during his time at Calipatria High and IVC.


For Goo, the success of his pupils in yet another contest is a testament to the long hours of practice they each logged.

"They worked really hard in their preparation for state," he said.

While Goo wouldn't admit it, the medal-winning performances also are a testament to Goo's welding program at Calipatria High, which is one of the only programs in the Imperial Valley that prepares students for graduation and allows them to work for their welding certification at the same time.

Both Russell and Joshua competed in arc-welding contests against fellow high schoolers. Cardenas competed in a combination welding contest against post-secondary foes, including fellow collegians and trade school welders.

In the combination welding contest competitors have to use MIG and TIG welding equipment in addition to basic arc welding gear.

Goo hopes Joshua, 17, competes in combination welding next year so that he'll be ready for tougher post-secondary competition after graduation.

To do that, Joshua will have to put in a lot of hours working with expensive aluminum and stainless steel alloys, the materials used in TIG welding.

Normally, finding the materials for him to practice with would be a problem for Goo because those metals are hard to come by.

Just Tuesday, however, Goo scored some scrap metal from Calipatria State Prison that will allow him to train his students. Goo said in the past, companies such as CalEnergy and a San Diego welding company have donated metal to his program.

The trip to Riverside was sponsored by the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program and the Calipatria Unified School District. In addition to the assistance of those organizations, Goo and his students organized a barbecue fund raiser to help fund the trip.

Goo expects to see even more of his students competing for medals as sons of former VICA members take part in his program.

"The gold medals are going to be rolling in," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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