10 finalists named for Trucking’s Top Rookie Award; winner to be honored at GATS

Updated Aug 17, 2016

A panel of judges has narrowed the field, and 10 professional truck drivers have been chosen as finalists in the search for this year’s Trucking’s Top Rookie.

Julie Matulle was 2014’s Top Rookie

The winner of the award will be announced during ceremonies at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas next month, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes.

The nine runners up will receive $1,000 and other prizes as well.

The Trucking’s Top Rookie contest is a partnership between “Truckers News,” the Truckload Carriers Association, Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, National Association of Publicly Funded Driving Schools, American Trucking Associations and the Red Eye Radio Network.

The 10 finalists include:

  • Mario Cardenas of TMC Transportation (Roadmaster Drivers School)
  • Brian College of Carbon Express, Inc. (Commercial Drivers School)
  • Chris Crowell of Werner Enterprises, Inc. (CDS Tractor Trailer Training)
  • Brandon Douglas of Melton Truck Lines, Inc. (American Truck Training)
  • Shawna Froehlich of Dartco, Inc. (Heavy Metal Truck Training)
  • Dave Honbarger of Maverick Transportation, Inc. (TransTech)
  • Willis Robinson of Cargo Transporters, Inc. (Future Truckers of America)
  • Kenneth Strother of Stevens Transport (Diesel Driving Academy)
  • Marc Walther of Wil-Trans (Northeast Technical Institute)
  • Kenneth Youmans of Dutch Maid Logistics (Professional Drivers Academy)

“We thank the judges for their hard work in narrowing the field of nominees to these ten finalists,” said “Truckers News” Editor David Hollis. “Each of these ten deserving finalists has shown they possess the skills, outlook and dedication to be successful in the American trucking industry.”

Hollis said the TCA has been instrumental in helping identify and recognize these outstanding drivers.

“TCA not only hosts the online nomination form, but we act as a clearinghouse by ensuring the nominees’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) are clean prior to reaching the judges,” says TCA’s President, John Lyboldt.  “Safety is top of mind and TCA takes pride in knowing only those worthy could potentially be named Trucking’s Top Rookie.”

 â€śTCA is proud to be involved in this contest, year after year,” says Lyboldt. “It’s a great way to showcase drivers who are making a difference in their communities and on the nation’s highways.”

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 Pilot Flying J MyReward points
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • A feature in “Truckers News”
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package, which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit and a Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally

The nine other finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • 50,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products Merchandise, featuring the RoadPro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit from Rand McNally

The award is named for the late Mike O’Connell was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and originated the idea of honoring a top rookie driver to help show new drivers they are important to and appreciated by the trucking industry.