These lineworkers climbed for a win at international rodeo

Duke Energy teams earned 12 awards at International Lineman’s Rodeo after a two-year pandemic hiatus

Sixteen Duke Energy lineworkers captured 12 awards at this year’s International Lineman’s Rodeo, bringing home trophies and bragging rights.

Two Duke Energy journeyman teams won first place – Craig Callis, Ethan Nunn and Stephen “Ryan” Denning from North Carolina in the Investor-Owned Utility Division (IOU) and David Barricklow, Matthew Dugan and T.J. Lewis from the Midwest in the seniors division.

The International Lineman's Rodeo starts with the national anthem and a prayer.

This is the first time since the pandemic that Duke Energy teams participated. When they last competed in 2019, a team of seniors from North Carolina won the world champion title.

At the 38th annual International Lineman’s Rodeo this year, 46 Duke Energy lineworkers from the Carolinas, Florida and the Midwest flocked to Bonner Springs, Kan., to greet old friends, meet new competitors and reach new rodeo heights.

“The International Lineman’s Rodeo is a chance to compete against some of the best rodeo competitors in the world, spend time with colleagues and meet new people,” said Denning.

The annual rodeo gives lineworkers the opportunity to showcase their skills like pole climbing, hurt man rescue, and equipment repairs to peers and family members, all while being judged on speed, agility and, most importantly, safety. 

Zach Ballard

“Family members don’t normally get to see what takes you away from birthday parties, anniversaries or school projects, but having them come out to watch you compete at the rodeo, it’s an opportunity for them to see a small piece of what you do every day,” said Jay Tipton, North Carolina journeyman and longtime rodeo competitor.

For apprentice Mystery Event One, Zach Ballard won second place. He is from Angier, N.C. and has been with the company 1.5 years. This was Ballard’s first time at the International Lineman’s Rodeo, and he was excited for the experience.

Meet the winners

Journeyman team: Joshua Buckner, Tyler Manick and Tyler Nickols


Awards: Second place in Mystery Event One, fourth in the IOU Division, and fifth in Best of the Best

Joshua Buckner

Hometown: Marion, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 7

“I always strive for the mystery events. That’s where the real work comes out. Anybody can practice for the predetermined events, but to come out and do good on something you don’t know beforehand is an achievement.”

Tyler Manick

Hometown: Old Fort, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 8

“Coming out to Kansas City and representing Duke Energy is something I take great pride in. We came to win. We wanted to win. That’s why we’re here.”

Tyler Nickols

Hometown: Marion, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 5

“I’ve had a blast. This has been a great time, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

Journeyman team: Craig Callis, Ethan Nunn and Stephen “Ryan” Denning


Awards: First place in the IOU Division, second in Best of the Best, and fourth in Mystery Event Two

Craig Callis

Hometown: Willow Spring, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 10

Callis was accompanied by his wife to his second International Lineman’s Rodeo.

Ethan Nunn

Hometown: Pittsboro, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 9

Nunn returned to compete in his second International Lineman’s rodeo, accompanied by his father – a former lineworker – and his wife.

Ryan Denning

Hometown: Benson, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 11

Denning said he feels about the International Lineman’s Rodeo the same way he feels about his job – it’s challenging, rewarding, and done while spending time with his co-workers.

Journeyman team: Jason Worley, Jay Tipton, Keith Griffin


Awards: Third place in the IOU Division, fourth in Best of the Best, and fifth in Mystery Event One

Jason Worley

Hometown: Alexander, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 10

“It’s a great feeling, being able to walk the stage in Kansas City, to know how many other teams have competed at the rodeo. It brings a sense of pride for the company, your teammates and fellow lineworkers.”

Jay Tipton

Hometown: Marshall, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy: 17

“I’ve enjoyed this year just as much as previous years. Seeing the new guys get to experience it, and helping coach them, it’s extremely rewarding.”

Keith Griffin

Hometown: Marshall, N.C.
Years at Duke Energy:26

Griffin has been to the International Lineman’s Rodeo several times and previously placed fifth in Mystery Event Two with teammate Jay Tipton in 2017.

Journeyman team: Chet Braden, Ed Filor and Henry Shupe


Awards: Third place in the Seniors Division

Chet Braden

Hometown: Manatee County, Fla.
Years at Duke Energy: 32

"It was really exciting for me this year because not only did I have a good team around me, but my son was able to join me on the stage. He wants to be a lineman one day.”

Ed Filor

Hometown: Crystal River, Fla.
Years at Duke Energy: 31

“I’ve competed at the international rodeo before and placing at all is an accomplishment. In 2014 we placed fifth, but this year placing third, walking across that stage, I choked up a little bit. I really took it all in this time, more so than ever, and enjoyed the moment.”

Henry Shupe

Hometown: New Port Richey, Fla.
Years at Duke Energy: 30

“I’ve been to the international rodeo before, but never walked the stage. This time we thought we’d be lucky to get fifth, but when we got third and walked out onto the stage, it was a rush.”

Journeyman team: David Barricklow, Matthew Dugan and T.J. Lewis


Awards: First place in the Seniors Division, competing as International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 1347

David Barricklow

Hometown: West Harrison, Ind.
Years at Duke Energy: 42

"As a third-generation company employee, linework is in my blood – and the rodeo marks the pinnacle of our trade. The utility business has been good to my family and me for a long time.”

Matthew Dugan

Hometown: Amelia, Ohio
Years at Duke Energy: 16

“I was glad to be able to share the rodeo with my family and friends.”

T.J. Lewis

Hometown: Dillsboro, Ind.
Years at Duke Energy: 32

"The rodeo reflects the work we do every day – such as working storms and restoring power for customers – because it helps make us the most efficient we can be.”