Maui duo places 14th in auto-repair contest


POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Maui High School team of Chester Lee Coloma and Edler Espiritu placed 14th among the teams in the 2009 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals yesterday in Dearborn, Mich.

Instructed by Shannon Rowe, the Kahului duo competed against 49 two-student teams at AAA Michigan, located near Ford World Headquarters, a press release said.

The team from Faribault High School in Faribault, Minn., won the 60th annual competition, which tests students' automotive problem-solving capabilities by having them diagnose and repair cars in 90 minutes.

More than 9,700 high school juniors and seniors competed this year, winning a record-high $10.7 million in scholarships. Maui High 2009 graduates—Coloma, 18, and Espiritu, 17—received just one demerit on fixing a Ford Escape in 92 minutes. They also had to take a written exam as part of their final score.

The Maui team received $1,000 scholarship per student to Lincoln College of Technology. In addition, for finishing in the top 15, Maui High will receive a Ford vehicle for future automotive technology students at their high school to train on, the release said. The team also will receive a trophy for the school.

Maui High teams have been representing Hawaii at the national finals for 15 years, almost annually since 1992, the competition's second-longest record, a release said. They've placed in the top 10 for the past nine years and won national titles in 1995 and 2000.