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Boonsboro truck driver wins state driving championship for third time

July 28, 2008|By THAISI H. VELASQUEZ

BOONSBORO -- With his recent win at the Maryland State Truck Driving Championship in his rearview mirror, Boonsboro truck driver Otho Kretzer is looking forward to competing again this summer, but at the next level.

Kretzer's state championship win qualified him for an opportunity to compete in August at the 2008 National Truck Driving Championships in Houston.

"I get to go to nationals this year and compete in the five-axle sleeper class," Kretzer said.

According to the American Trucking Association's Web site, there will be nine classes in the competition, including straight truck, three-axle, four-axle, five-axle, flatbed, tank truck, twins, sleeper and auto transporter.

Born and raised in Sharpsburg, Kretzer is no stranger to competing. He won the Maryland State Truck Championship in 2005, 2007 and 2008.

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"Otho scored a perfect score on the written test at the Maryland Truck Driving Championship," said Steven D. Sibbio, Con-way Freight service center manager.

"I just got lucky enough to be the highest scorer in my class," Kretzer said modestly.

Craig Talbott, Maryland Motor Truck Association vice president, said Kretzer's score is the only perfect score he remembers in the eight years he's been working there.

With each state win, Kretzer won a plaque, an embroidered jacket and the chance to go on to the National Truck Driving Championships.

"If you win first place in nationals, Con-way gives you a brand-new, fully loaded Ford pickup truck," Kretzer said with a smile.

Sibbio added, "And you win a tractor for use during the year with your name on the door."

Kretzer will try for the win as he represents the state of Maryland and Con-way Freight at the industry's most prestigious challenge.

Those who compete in the National Truck Driving Championships must pass a series of tests, including a written exam, a personal interview, a pre-trip inspection and a skills test.

"Otho is a tremendous representative of the company and of the industry," Sibbio said.

Kretzer has been a driver sales representative with Con-way Freight for 13 years and a professional truck driver for 25 years.

Kretzer said that after working for about a year at the Creasey Co. back in the early 1980s, he approached his warehouse manager about getting his tractor-trailer license.

"I got it (the license), and I've been in love with truck driving ever since," Kretzer said.

That love has equated to 1.8 million miles on the road. Of these miles, 1,000,500 miles have been accident-free.

"It's a wonderful accomplishment to remain accident-free for a one-year period, let alone those who remain accident-free for years," Sibbio said.

Avoiding accidents is crucial to those who want to compete.

Sibbio said competitors have to be accident-free for the previous year leading up to the events. That includes preventable and nonpreventable accidents.

"If someone hits you, then you're excluded from competing as well," Sibbio said.

"If something were to happen, and I'm hoping it don't, not only does it eliminate me from going to nationals this year, but I can't participate in states next year," Kretzer said.

"So," he added, "I have the responsibility of getting myself and the equipment from our location to my destination and back safely without any damages."

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