Livestock Judging Team claims national championship
The Texas Tech University Livestock Judging Team was named national champions at the 2007 North American International Livestock Exposition, held Nov. 12 in Louisville, KY.
“It’s an awesome experience,” said Jeff Berry, a member of the team and senior animal sciences major from Cheyenne, WY.
Tech claimed four of the top 10 individuals in the competition and earned first place in the cattle and oral reasons divisions, second in sheep, and third overall in swine to win the national championship for the first time since 1985.
All-time Record. In addition, the team set an all-time record in the oral reasons division, scoring 1,881 points.
Ryan Rathmann, livestock judging coach and an instructor in Tech’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences, said his team committed tremendous amounts of time to achieve their goal of winning the national contest.
“Their work ethic and determination finally persevered,” he said.
The competition, which featured teams from across the nation including Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, Colorado State University, and Oklahoma State University, tested the students’ knowledge of cattle, sheep and swine, as well as their oral reasons for ranking animals.
All-American. Along with the national championship, three team members were named to the All-American Livestock Judging Team at the event. The students, which were selected on the basis of academic record, leadership, and livestock judging success, included Landi Woolley of Grandview, Amber Harris of Pearland, and Matthew Stolz of Brenham.
Other members of the team were Jordan Hicks of Hereford, Brett Wheeler of Plant City, FL, Greg McNeil of Rosharon, Clint Halfmann of Wall, Jonathan Hisey of Rule, Andrew Hokanson of Dumas, and Garrett Holder of Andrews.
During the national contest 12 classes with four animals of the same species in each class were ranked in order of the competitor’s preference. In eight of the 12 classes the students gave roughly a two-minute set of oral reasons defending why they based the class the manner they did, based upon muscle, correctness of finish or simply put fat, and their structural correctness, technically known as balance.
Purebred Livestock. According to North American International Livestock Exposition officials, the annual event is the world’s largest all-breed, purebred livestock exposition. Ten different types of livestock compete, and the purebred beef and sheep events are the largest in the world. The exposition, which moved from Chicago after more than seven decades to Louisville in 1974, draws nearly 22,000 entries and approximately 200,000 visitors to the city each year.
“We’ve got a program that recruits outstanding students and training programs capable of taking them to the highest level,” said Kevin Pond, chairman of Tech’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “If you take great students and train them appropriately, you can expect them to excel. This adds to the 20 previous national championships our departmental teams have won.”
Written by Norman Martin
Editor’s Note: Members of the national champion Texas Tech University Livestock Judging Team are (top row from left) Coach Ryan Rathmann, Matt Stolz, Brett Wheeler, Coach Todd Beyers, (bottom row from left) Garrett Holder, Andrew Hokanson, Landi Wooley, Jeff Berry, and Clint Halfmann. Not shown are Greg Clark, Amber Harris, Jordan Hicks, Jonathon Hisey, and Greg McNeil.