Update: Top teams glide past century mark in national championship titles
By: Norman Martin
CASNR's Department of Plant and Soil Science laid the groundwork with a decades-long string of national titles beginning in the 1940's. Between 1947 and 1970, its crop judging team took no less than 34 championships. Meanwhile, Tech's Meat Judging Team, Livestock Judging Team and Meat Science Academic Quiz Bowl Team have dominated the title rankings since the turn of the century.
CASNR has a long culture of involvement that encourages students to be engaged in activities outside the classroom, said Michael Galyean, former Texas Tech Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. "Competitive teams are a key way of showing that involvement," he said.
Michael Orth, chair of Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, added, "The experiential learning and development that takes place while being on a team are hard to replicate in a classroom. What has been the most impressive to me is meeting many of our former students and seeing not only how successful they have become in their careers, but also their exemplary character."
Historically, one factor in Tech's early dominance in the championship race was the presence of two talented individuals from Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science: Cecil Ayers and B. L. Allen.
Ayers, a noted agronomy professor who began working at Tech in 1942, was the winner of the Piper Professor Award. The longtime coach of Tech's crops judging team led his teams to either first or second in both national and international judging teams from 1947 to 1953 and again in 1955. In total, Tech's crops judging team have won almost three dozen national and international championships, the bulk of those in the 1950s and 1960s.
"Cecil Ayers was the quintessential teacher and judging team coach," said Cynthia McKenney, Tech's former Rockwell Endowed Professor of Horticulture in Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science. "He was able to share his passion for crops with his teams, such that they were able to strive for the best and make Texas Tech a dominate force in national competitions for many years."
Another leader was Allen, a veteran educator and nationally-recognized soil scientist who taught soil science courses at Tech for almost 50 years, starting in 1959. From 1991 until his retirement in 2003, Allen served as the university's Rockwell Professor of Soil Science. In addition, he coached Tech's soils team for 40 years. His teams won national championships in 1964, 1967, 1973, 1975 and 1977.
"Dr. Allen was a foremost soil scientist, a deeply religious individual, and most importantly - a good man," added Richard Zartman, former chairman of Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science. "He was the consummate field soil scientist, and he instilled his curiosity and passion in all of us who had the good fortune to work with him," said Zartman, who retired from his post as chairman and Leidigh Professor of Soil Physics in 2014.
While athletic teams tend to cycle up and down in the limelight during the sports season, two CASNR teams have lately been dominate in competition, often defending national championship titles in distant locations across the nation. The Meat Judging Team, Meat Science Academic Quiz Bowl Team and the Livestock Judging Team, all in Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences, are among the country's top leaders in their fields.
Mark Miller, a professor and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Distinguished Chair in Meat Science in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences, leads CASNR's standout Meat Judging Team program. The team won top honors in 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020.
Meanwhile, Ryan Rathmann, Tech's John W. and Doris Jones Professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, leads another winning team, Tech's Livestock Judging Team. The team won national titles in 1934, 1953, 1985, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016.
Separately, other high-flyers in the department bringing in national titles include the Meat Animal Evaluation Team which won in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2019; the Ranch Horse Team which won in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2021. The Meat Science Academic Quiz Bowl Team brought home championships in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019.
Other champions on the list, to the best of CASNR officials' knowledge, include:
• Agronomy Quiz Bowl Team: 2007, 2008, 2009
• Crop Judging Team:
o Intercollegiate – Kansas City : 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970
o International – Chicago: 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968
• Horse Judging Team: 1981, 1986, 2004
• Range Plant Identification Team: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1978
• Rodeo Team: 1955
• Women's Rodeo Team: 2012
• Soil Judging Team: 1964, 1967, 1973, 1975, 1977
• Wool Judging Team: 1956, 1986, 2013, 2018, 2021
CONTACT: Cindy Akers, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
0524NM21 / Editor's Note: Original story posted August 2016.
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Editor: Norman Martin
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