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CLEAR WATER (WQOW) – Royal Construction carpenters Drew Hawkins and Tony Ehrike won first and second place respectively at the 2022 National Craft Championships.

The competition was held during the Builders and Contractors Associates Convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Center in San Antonio last month, with the nation’s best vying for top honors in 15 different competitions, spanning 12 different trades. Competitors were evaluated with a two-hour online exam and a six-hour hands-on performance test.

Hawkins said after finishing the competition he had no idea his chances of winning. Hearing his name called as the first-place winner stunned him.

“I don’t really fully remember [what my reaction was]. I think I let out a deep breath,” Hawkins said. “It felt like all the weight was coming off of me. But I had no idea I was going to win until they called my name.

Hawkins’ colleague Ehrike followed a third-place finish in the state in 2020 with the national runner-up this year. He echoed Hawkins’ thoughts of finding the experience difficult to put into words.

“Clammy palms. Shaky knees. And they’re calling your name and it’s mind-blowing,” Ehrike said. “[I have] no words to really explain it. Hop on, collect your prize, and still be amazed as you return to your seat.

State Representatives Warren Petryk and Jesse James visited the Royal Construction office on Tuesday to present winners with a plaque and state flag honoring their achievements.

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