The University of Nevada, Reno Mackay Muckers mining team faced off against other collegiate mining teams in the annual 31st International Intercollegiate Mining Competition in Butte, Mont., hosted by Montana Tech from April 1-4. The men’s team took home third place while the women’s team took second place.
The men’s team, women’s team and co-ed team, comprised of 18 student members, participated in seven separate events that reprise old mining techniques. These events include gold panning, surveying, mucking, jackleg drilling, trackstand, hand steeling and Swede saw. All three Mackay teams came back with first place trophies for many of these individual events.
The women’s team placed first in mucking, track stand and Swede saw. After the first day of the competition, the team tied for first place with Missouri University of Science and Technology. The tiebreaker event was jackleg drilling, in which the members of the team take turns drilling horizontally into a concrete block for a limited amount of time. The women’s team drilled about 13 inches, just two inches short of Missouri University’s 15 inches, and lost their first place standing to Missouri.
“Everyone got really tensed up,” Anna Perry, 21, captain of the women’s team and geological engineering student, said of her teammates during the tiebreaker. “But we drilled a lot more in the tiebreaker than they did when we competed during the individual event. I think the girls put on a good show and they did a really great job.”
Garrett Schult, 23-year-old captain of the men’s team and mining engineering student, emphasized enjoying the competition as opposed to sweeping the competition.
“We kind of just had a lot of fun this year,” Schult said. “We probably got a little overconfident but we weren’t running out to grab first place. We just set out to do a good solid job.”
Though competitiveness is a priority for the three teams of the Mackay Muckers, having fun and networking are also important facets of the competition. Because the students in the competition will most likely work with one another in the field of mining and earth science after college, teamwork and networking are important to learn early on. What better place to do that than in the mining competition, both Schult and Perry said.
“You get to meet so many people from so many schools,” Schult said. “These are the people you’ll be working with when you’re out of school.”
Though the competition just ended, both Schult and Perry are setting there are gearing up for the next competition, which will be hosted in Australia by the Western Australia School of Mines.
For Perry, though she will not be the team captain next year, one improvement would be to recruit new students to carry on the Mucker’s legacy.
“I would definitely like to see some younger girls coming in next year,” Perry said. “Next year I’m kind of wondering what’s going to happen because so many of us will be graduating next year.”
Schult and many of his teammates are elated with getting a chance to travel abroad and participate in the competition. Because the competition falls on the week following spring break, Schult plans to sightsee in Australia, which includes mining tours.
“It’s tradition that we go and try to do some mining tours,” Schult said. “We might also possibly visit the places of the companies that sponsor us.”