MEXICO — Teddy McLaughlin thought his first forestry competition was pretty neat.

“We got to meet new people from different schools and it was a challenge going against the competition,” the sophomore student from Mountain Valley High School in Rumford said. He won first place operating a loader.

Eight forestry students from Dave Mason and Mark Beaudoin’s classes at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology competed against nearly 50 other forestry students from four regional vocational schools in Houlton earlier in the month.

Together, the Mexico team brought home 13 trophies in such events as the cookie stack, skidder operation, log roll, pulp and ax throws and other logging skills.

Many of the events are held to test chain saw skills, Mason said.

Some of the students got to drive a new $330,000 skidder the Aroostook County John Deere dealership lent for the competition.

This was very different, senior William Simmons said.

“They changed from cable, when you have to get out of the skidder and hook the logs individually, to a grapple system where you just sit in the cab and run a lever,” he said.

Simmons plans to head to Alaska a couple of months after graduation from Mountain Valley High School to look for work with a logging company.

Julian Baldinelli, a junior at Dirigo High School in Dixfield, had to sit out many of the events because of an arm injury.

“It was a good experience, though, to see everyone competing. It was fun watching,” he said.

Baldinelli plans to enter the military after graduation, then go into the logging business.

Just last week, Mason said the forestry classes received a new excavator, bought through Perkins grant and student activities’ money.

He said the forestry program plans to begin offering classes in excavation work at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Having such skills will be helpful to future logging industry employees because excavators help build logging roads, he said.

Eventually, Mason and Beaudoin hope to offer diesel mechanics repair at Region 9 with the help of the Maine Department of Transportation.

In addition to the Region 9 forestry students, others competed from Oxford Hills Technical School in Paris and Foster Technology Center in Farmington and Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton.