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WVU wins fourth SME Mine Rescue Competition

WVU Mine Team

(Pictured left to right) John Helmick (Trainer), Ashton Crawford, William Geldhauser, Joshua Riffle, Jay “Bird” Pollock, Mackenzie Stone, George “Smurf” Rannenberg and Joshua Brady (Submitted Photo)

West Virginia University Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources Mine Rescue Gold Team took home its fourth straight first place finish in the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration – 2021 Eastern Collegiate Mine Rescue Competition.

Story by Adrianne Uphold, Graduate Assistant


WVU beat out teams from the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech and a second team from WVU to win the event, which was held at the West Virginia Training Center in Julian, West Virginia. 

The competition tested teams’ ability to locate and rescue missing miners. 

“Students must communicate what is found in the mine to make logistical decisions on how to handle mine fires, injured miners, irrespirable atmospheres, bad ground control conditions and mine flooding,”  Joshua Brady , director of mining and industrial extension and WVU Mine Rescue adviser said. “Then the students must correct those conditions systematically before removing any survivors.”

In preparation for the competition, the team trained at WVU’s  Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies . Team members worked through problems designed by their trainers to teach them skills they would need to accomplish the goal of the given scenario.  

“The students displayed unwavering problem-solving skills, clear communication and leadership for over two years,” Brady said. “I’m appreciative of the students for attending practice on Tuesday and Thursdays at 6 a.m. They are asked to display hard work, dedication and passion toward mine rescue, and they have done everything we asked as trainers.”

The team was led by senior  mining engineering major Jay “Bird” Pollock from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Joining Pollock on the team were Max Schaefer, William Geldhauser, Ashton Crawford, Joshua Riffle and Mackenzie Stone. Trainers include George “Smurf” Rannenberg, Sean Rhodes and John Helmick Jr. 

“This was my last competition with the WVU Mine Rescue Team, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” Pollock said. “Our success has shown me that with hard work and dedication, anything is achievable. All the team members and trainers have sacrificed so much. From showing up at the Dolls Run Mine Safety Training Facility at six in the morning for practice to spending our Sundays in the Mine Lab. This success can be attributed to the tireless efforts of the team and our dedicated trainers.”



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135