Texas Tech Meat Judging Team captures 14th National Championship
By: George Watson
What does 40 years of dominance look like? It wears red and black. The Texas Tech University Meat Judging Team, housed within the Department of Animal & Food Sciences, capped the 2019 competitive season by capturing the program's 14th national championship on Sunday (Nov. 10) at the American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Nebraska.
Texas Tech, dubbed this spring by Sports Illustrated as "the Alabama football of the meat judging world," has won at least one championship in each of the last four decades, beginning with its first crown in 1989. Texas Tech also has won a national championship every 10 years since that first one, claiming crowns in 1999, 2009 and now 2019. The Challenge Trophy will now end this decade in Lubbock, its sixth stay in the Hub City in the last 10 years.
"The thing that makes this team special is how they have continued to overcome adversity," said Mark Miller, coach of the Meat Judging Team and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Distinguished Chair in Meat Sciences. "They kept striving to be excellent even when they weren't winning. When the team stopped focusing on winning and started focusing on each other, humbled themselves and had faith is when they were able to win."
Texas Tech cruised to victory, outlasting second-place Kansas State University by more than 60 points, 4,192 to 4,131. Texas A&M University finished third with 4,112 points followed by Oklahoma State University (4,069) and Colorado State University (3,996) rounding out the top five.
Coming off a win the previous weekend at the Cargill High Plains contest in Friona, Texas, Tech's latest national title was fueled by a dominating overall performance, capturing first place in six of the eight categories and finishing with the top three overall individual performances and four in the top 10.
Texas Tech captured first in overall beef (2,133 points), beef grading (1,020), beef judging (1,113), pork judging (1,139), specifications (388) and reasons (885) while finishing third in total placing (1,899). Angelo State University, a part of the Texas Tech University System, finished eighth with 3,875 points.
"I am very proud of this Meat Judging Team and their championship," said Michael Orth, chairman of Tech's Department of Animal & Food Sciences. "This was a fitting ending to a great year which also included the article in Sports Illustrated, Meat Science Quiz Bowl Championship and International Meat Judging Championship. Great coaches, students and alumni support lead to moments like these."
Texas Tech also continued its tradition of dominating individual performances. A Texas Tech competitor has now captured the individual national crown for five straight years, and 2019 marks the third time in five years Texas Tech has had the top two individual finishers.
This year, Texas Tech went one step further by claiming the top three spots, led by Sherri Halstead. The native of Aztec, New Mexico, finished first overall with 1,063 points. She placed in the top 10 in seven of the eight judging categories and took the top spot in overall beef (551 points), beef judging (292) and pork judging (289) while finishing second in beef grading (259) and third in reasons (225).
Close on her heels was Britt Dixon, a native of Roswell, New Mexico, who finished second with 1,050 points. Dixon finished in the top 10 in five categories, led by second-place finishes in lamb judging (145) and specifications (100) and a fourth-place finish in reasons (224).
Rounding out Texas Tech's top three was Slaton native Grant Kitten with 1,048 points. Kitten finished first in specifications (100 points), third in overall beef (531) and fourth in beef grading (225) while placing in the top 10 in five categories overall.
Taylor Schertz, a native of Krum, finished Texas Tech's top 10 contingent with her 10th-place finish with 1,031 points. She finished first in beef grading with 260 points and fifth in overall beef with 530 points.
In the Alternate Division, Texas Tech was just as dominant with nine of the top 10 individual honors. Zain Wade, a native of Heber City, Utah, captured the alternate individual title with 845 points.
"Once again, our Meat Judging Team illustrates not only its dominance in the competitive judging arena but also the incredible effort these students put in to have a quality educational experience," said William Brown, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. "Mark Miller's guidance in getting these students to achieve at the highest level makes our Meat Judging Team second to none, and Michael Orth's dedication to the success of our judging teams overall make the Department of Animal & Food Sciences the envy of the rest of the country."
Other members of the Meat Judging Team are:
• Anna Carlock from Joshua, Texas
• Wilse Corliss from Estancia, New Mexico
• Nicole Cox from Hutto, Texas
• Denise Guevara from Garden City, Kansas
• Maleea Harper from Amherst, Texas
• Jacie Henefey from D'Hanis, Texas
• Newt Koemel from Albany, Texas
• Greg Matocha from La Grange
• Conner McKinzie from Stephenville, Texas
• Anna Scott from Hazlehurst, Georgia
• Keith Shoemake from Spring Branch, Texas
• Tanner Thompson from Florence, Texas
• Ty Largent from Redding, California
• Paige Williams from Austin, Texas
Coaches for this year's team are graduate students Tommy Fletcher and Cole Perkins, along with Miller.
CONTACT: Michael Orth, chairman, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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