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Ohio girl wins statewide masonry contest — but third-place boy will take her place in national event

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An Ohio teenager who won a gold medal in a statewide masonry competition — and the first girl to win the top prize — found out on Facebook that she won’t be allowed to compete at a national leadership and skills conference.

Shania Clifford saw a social media post by the boy who won third prize at the SkillsUSA Ohio masonry competition announcing that he would be competing next week at the national level, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

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The superintendent for Scioto County Career Technical Center, where Clifford just completed her junior year, asked officials with SkillsUSA for an explanation but was given only a vague response.

“The scores were inappropriately put in,” an official told the superintendent.

The 17-year-old Clifford won the masonry competition in late April by 72 points — a substantial difference — and her instructor said Clifford’s column was outstanding.

“She had the best plumb there,” said instructor Larry Moore, referring to the straightness of the column’s vertical edges. “Two or three corners were perfect.”

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A spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education, which sponsored the competition, said scores were incorrectly entered after the judges filled out their paperwork and inaccurately named Clifford the winner.

She was downgraded to third place, and the boy who originally placed third was named the winner.

The spokeswoman said no errors were made on the judges’ scoring sheets — and Clifford called foul.

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“My question was, ‘How can you override a judge’s decision?'” Clifford said. “Why even have them?”

Clifford won’t be allowed to compete alongside 6,000 other state champions in the national event in Louisville, Kentucky — but SkillsUSA will allow her to keep the gold medal she won in Columbus.

“If they allow me to keep my award, they should allow me to keep my place,” Clifford said.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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