AFS Meat Judging Team captures third straight national championship
By: George Watson
Through all the challenges the world has faced over the last two years, one thing has remained constant – Texas Tech's Meat Judging Team remains the team to beat. That was reaffirmed once again this past weekend when the team showed its dominance at the 2021 American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Nebraska, capturing its third straight national championship.
A year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced an abbreviated schedule and the national championships to be moved to Texas and a reduced number of teams competing, the full fall schedule and national championships returned to normal. What hasn't changed in all that time, however, is Texas Tech's dominance in the sport.
Sunday's victory not only marked the third straight national crown for the Texas Tech team, which won the crown in 2019 and 2020, but also further cemented its status as the premier meat judging team in the U.S., capturing the program's 16th overall national championship. It also marks the third time in the history of meat judging a team has won three straight national championships, twice done by Texas Tech, which also accomplished the feat from 2011 to 2013. Texas Tech also won the national title in five of the last seven years.
"The national championship win completed a three-peat for the Texas Tech University Red Raiders – winning in 2019, 2020 and 2021,” said Mark Miller, coach of the Meat Judging Team and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Distinguished Chair in Meat Sciences. “God blessed this team by bringing them close together as a family. The trust, commitment and love between them made the difference. They worked very hard and had an unselfish spirit and love while pursuing honor and excellence to bring home the 16th meat judging national championship for Texas Tech."
The Texas Tech Meat Judging Team opened the season with a first-place finish at the Eastern National Competition but then struggled in its next two outings, finishing fourth at the American Royal and AMSA High Plains competitions. But when it was all on the line this weekend, Texas Tech delivered in a big way.
Texas Tech ran away with the competition, scoring 4,210 points, well ahead of second-place Kansas State University with 4,168 points and third-place West Texas A&M University with 4,142. Former Big 12 Conference foe Texas A&M University (4,075 points) and Angelo State University (4,055), part of the Texas Tech University System, round out the top five.
Texas Tech's victory was driven by its dominance in the beef categories and by the fact it took first place in five of the eight categories overall. Texas Tech finished first in overall beef (2,154 points), beef judging (1,116), lamb judging (569), total placing (1,940) and reasons/questions (841) while taking second in beef grading, fourth in pork judging and fifth in specifications.
Individually, Texas Tech placed four competitors in the top six, led by Deming, New Mexico native Kylan Swinney, who finished second overall, nine points back of first place, with 1,064 points. Swinney placed in the top 10 in seven of the eight judging categories, including a first-place spot in lamb judging, second place in total placing and third place in overall beef. Swinney also was fourth in beef grading, fifth in beef judging, sixth in reasons/questions and seventh in pork judging.
Coming in fourth overall for Texas Tech in the individual competition was Cassie Bendele from Hondo, who totaled 1,055 points. She had a pair of second-place finishes in beef grading and specifications while also finishing fifth in overall beef and ninth in lamb judging.
Right behind Bendele is another Hondo native Preston Twilligear with 1,046 points. His highest placing came in beef judging, where he finished second. He also finished fourth in lamb judging, sixth in both overall beef and total placing and 10th in beef grading.
Rounding out the list of Texas Tech individual winners is Caleb Kunde. The native of Marion was sixth overall, finishing third in reasons/questions, seventh in specifications and eighth in both overall beef and beef judging. Bendele and Twilligear were both named first-team All-American and Kunde was named second-team All-American based on academic excellence and contest performance.
Texas Tech also had four alternate teams in the competition, taking five of the top 10 spots in the alternate category, including first place with 3,633 points, just ahead of Kansas State. Individually, Texas Tech had three of the top five finishers in the alternate division, including the top two spots occupied by Arliss Corliss from Estancia, New Mexico, and Jake Bagby from Stephenville.
Corliss led all alternate competitors with 858 points while Bagby had 848. Cade Snethen from Otterbein, Indiana, finished fifth among alternates with 839 points, Dayton Wood from Cumby was eighth with 835 points and Kindle Catching from Howe was ninth, also with 835 points.
“This year's team has continued the legacy of excellence that decades of teams, students and faculty have built,” said Chance Brooks, interim department chair and professor of meat science in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences. “They have once again established Texas Tech as the national powerhouse in meat judging. I could not be prouder of each team member and coach who has dedicated countless hours to bring this national title back to Lubbock for the third consecutive year.”
Other members of the Meat Judging Team are:
- Bryce Black from Prosper
- Grace Carver from Flower Mound
- Morgan Elsworth from Spring Branch
- Grayson Harrell from Crandall
- Skylar Hough-Anderson from Canton
- Shelby Kinsey from Lockhart
- Grace Parker from Slaton
- Hannah Pearson from Oconto, Nebraska
- Laurell Pfeiffer from Hondo
- Paige Perryman from Lubbock
- Rance Smith from Royse City
- Reid Swinney from Deming, New Mexico
Swinney earned the Rachel Hamilton Spirit Award as voted on by the team. Along with Miller, coaches for this year's team are Taylor Schertz from Krum and Conner McKinzie from Stephenville.
CONTACT: Chance Brooks, Interim Chair and Professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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