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May 14, 2019 11:45 AM, EDT

Seasoned Competitor Wade Wagemann Returns to Defend South Dakota Title

YRC Freight's Wade Wagemann Wade Wagemann of YRC Freight (center) was South Dakota's 2018 Twin Trailers champion and Grand Champion. Jason Skotvold (right) was second in the category, and Virgil Thiewes (both of FedEx Freight) came in third. (South Dakota Trucking Association)

Wade Wagemann of YRC Freight will be gunning for his ninth appearance at the National Truck Driving Championships as he competes for the 13th time at the South Dakota Truck Driving Championships, which are being held May 18 at the Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls.

Wagemann was last year’s Grand Champion, coming out of the Twins division to capture the top prize. This year, he’s going to compete in the 5-Axle category.

Officials are expecting about 25 drivers to participate in this year’s event.

2019 NTDC

The 2019 National Truck Driving Championships

Qualifiers | Map | Photos | Video

Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned

What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills

When: Aug. 14-17

Where: Pittsburgh

“Our numbers are low, but our competition is fierce,” said Michelle Wells, executive assistant of the South Dakota Trucking Association.

SOUTH DAKOTA ARCHIVE PAGE: Previews, recaps and more

Other drivers to watch include Dan Norgaard of Old Dominion Freight Line and a pair of drivers for FedEx Freight, Troy Swenson and Mike Whitehead. Wells called them “outstanding competitors,” adding, “Our competition is filled with talent.”

The state championships will highlight the skills and abilities of drivers over three categories: pre-trip inspection, written exam and skills/driving obstacle.

“Once a driver enters, they are hooked,” Wells said. “It is all about safety from that point forward — for the drivers as well as their companies.”