And that is precisely what the A.C. Jones High School students did when they won the Mike Mylnar Memorial Nueces County Junior Livestock Show American Welding Society Welding Contest.
“They had a real specific purpose to win and to win for Mr. Mylnar,” said Dick Beasley, who has taken over temporarily for Mylnar teaching the welding class.
“They were prepared and they were confident.”
Mylnar, who taught welding at the high school for the past 10 years, died Jan. 2 of a stroke.
During Friday’s competition at the Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds in Robstown, 10 area high schools competed.
The plate welders representing Beeville were Eric Dehnert, Victoria Elizalde, Hunter Hardy and Clay Blackwell. The pipe fabrication/welding team representing Beeville consisted of Maverick Quintana, Bryan Webb and Andres Gaitan.
When the awards were handed out, the plate welding team of Elizalde and Dehnert received third place out of 20 teams and the pipe fabricating/welding team of Quintana, Webb and Gaitan captured first out of 10 teams. There were certified welding inspectors and an industrial X-ray technician on hand to judge and inspect the fabrication and welds these students produced.
“The kids were fired up. They were prepared. They were ready to win,” Beasley said. “They wanted to win it for Mike Mylnar.”
What made the wins more special was the contest is now named in honor of Mylnar.
Mylnar, along with Russell Smith from Houston, are the men responsible for the founding of this competition nine years ago.
“The family was deeply touched by the renaming of the contest and it will forever be appreciated for the consideration offered to Mike Mylnar,” Beasley said.
This isn’t the only fitting tribute to Mylnar that has occurred.
His family also made the decision to donate his organs to help others.
At 50 years old, his body was in such good shape that all the major organs, including his heart, could go to help someone in need.
Mylnar began teaching at the high school in 2003 having retired from Flint Hills Refinery.
Enrollment was only at 25 students that first semester.
By the second semester there was a waiting line for the program.
During the next 10 years of contests, students would routinely take home first place trophies.
Jones High had become known as the home of top-notch welders.
When word of Mylnar’s diagnosis spread, students, past and present, returned to Beeville. His wife, Katheryn, said that at one time, they had 20 youths in the hospital room packed shoulder to shoulder sharing stories.
His students, his family said, were so important to him that every former student was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.
Paul Mylnar, his son, said it wasn’t his father’s intention to make every student of his a welder. He wanted to instill in them a work ethic.
“He wanted everyone to be the best they could be,” Paul said. “If you didn’t try or didn’t want it, he would act like he didn’t have time for you.
“The reality is, he was crushed.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.