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North Stanly senior takes first place in bricklaying competition

For the past year North Stanly senior Austin Shue had been working toward one goal: laying as many bricks as possible in 20 minutes.

He practiced each day in his masonry class and also worked in the summer — getting up at 5 a.m. each day — at his dad’s masonry company in Midland. Shue, 18, has been working with bricks since he was in sixth grade. 

His motivation came from taking fifth place in his inaugural North Carolina Junior Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competition last year. He said instead of simply relaxing and laying bricks, he let his nerves get the better of him during the competition. 

Shue’s hard work paid off during this year’s event, held at Ben Ketchie Park in Gold Hill last month, when he was credited with laying 248 bricks (up from around 160 last year). He beat eight other students representing local high schools around the region. He exceeded his own expectations, which was to simply finish in the top three and hear his name called out.

His tender, or helper, during the event was classmate Nathaniel Myers. 

When he was told how many bricks he had laid, “I was just flipping out” because that was the most bricks he had ever laid during the 20-minute period. Still, Shue still didn’t think he was going to win until his name was announced. 

“It was awesome,” Shue said of taking home first place. “It was the best feeling ever.”

Shue won a cash prize of $200, a new set of Stabila Levels and, in a separate competition, won a 50-inch flat screen TV. 

His masonry class and his teacher Matt Almond were at the competition to support and cheer him on.

“I was really proud of him,” said Almond. “He works really hard… and he always tries to improve.”

After graduation, Shue plans to work for his father’s company, Morgan Masonry. He also would like to attend Stanly Community College and study construction management.

His favorite part of bricklaying is the permanence of the structures he builds.

He likes looking at what he built and knowing he did it himself and that “it will stay there for years upon years upon years because it was built right.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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