His father, Darren Hartsell, is a masonry instructor at nearby Jay M. Robinson High School. His masonry instructor when he attended Central Cabarrus High School, Todd Hartsell, is unrelated, but has sponsored nine national masonry contest winners in the last twelve years.
Jordan Hartsell has taken full advantage of his opportunities to become a contest-winning young mason. Hartsell took first-place honors in the post secondary division of this year’s national masonry contest, held as part of the SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo.
Now a junior majoring in mechanical engineering at The University of North Carolina Charlotte, Jordan Hartsell couldn’t get over the disappointment of his sixth place finish in the state masonry contest his senior year in high school.
“I’d been laying brick with my dad for years and took masonry classes throughout high school. Heck, I took four masonry classes my senior year. I don’t know what happened in that contest, but I didn’t do as well as I thought I should have,” Hartsell said.
A good friend, Dylan Ennis, won first-place honors at the national competition in 2011.
“I’m pretty competitive by nature. I think Dylan’s win motivated me,” says Hartsell.
Despite being a full-time college student, Hartsell went back to his high school masonry instructor and asked if he’d sponsor him. Todd Hartsell agreed, and the two of them began extensive preparations, working together in the high school classroom six to eight hours a day, two to three days a week for six months.
“I can’t imagine how many walls and practice projects I built,” Hartsell admits.
After winning the North Carolina post secondary contest, both his instructor and his father accompanied Hartsell to Kansas City. Returning to the national contest for the first time since he placed fourth in 1984, Darren Hartsell was filled with trepidation.
“I was so hoping that Jordan would do well. I finished fourth, and for me there was no second chance. There was not a post secondary division then, and finishing so close to a medal was one of the biggest disappointments of my life,” Hartsell’s father admits.
“Before we left for Kansas City, I showed Jordan my scrapbook of photographs and newspaper clippings. I just told him that I knew he had worked hard preparing; and that no matter how well he did, he’d made his old man proud.”
After examining and measuring his son’s composite project, Darren Hartsell had high hopes that his son might win a medal.
“I owned my own masonry construction business for twenty years before becoming an instructor ten years ago. I couldn’t have built that project any better than Jordan did. It’s a compliment to Jordan’s hard work and Todd’s (Hartsell) excellent instruction.
Jordan’s instructor wasn’t so sure.
“Jordan ran short of time (as the six-hour time limit approached),” Todd Hartsell said. “He didn’t have time to check the details, to put the finishing touches on it. I knew he’d lost some points there,” the perfectionist instructor bemused.
“When they announced his name,” Jordan’s father said excitedly, “Todd and I jumped from our seats. My camera landed three rows down! It was a great father-son experience. I will always cherish that experience. I’m so glad I was there.”
A member of National Honor Society, Beta Club and National Technical Honors Society, Hartsell’s decision to attend college was influenced by his mother and grandmother, both teachers.
“My grandmother had a master’s degree in mathematics, and I’ve always been good at math and science,” Hartsell says. “Going to college was always something I thought I’d do.”
With no specific plans after he obtains his degree, Hartsell continues laying brick and working weekends to pay his way through college.