Tiger livestock judges showing well early in season

Livestock judges from Fort Hays State University came away from their first major event of the new season with a 10th-place finish overall at the Senior Collegiate Contest at the Denver National Western.

The Senior Collegiate Contest had a near-record number of institutions with 32.

Within the individual species categories, the Tigers were seventh in sheep evaluation, eighth in beef and 19th in hogs. In individual rankings in livestock, Matt Wolfe, Indianola, NE, senior, again led the team with a 17th overall finish.

Coach Kolby Burch, program specialist with the Department of Agriculture at FHSU, said that Wolfe "didn't have a stellar day placings wise, but made a strong comeback in the reasons room." The reasoning portion of the competition is where contestants defend their judgments on the livestock.

"Wolfe was second overall in reasons with an impressive score of 377 out of 400," said Burch.

Burch said that Kiley McKinna, Redvers, Saskatchewan, junior, had a strong day with a 25th-place overall finish.

In the carload competition, the Tigers were unable to repeat as champions from one year ago. In this competition, contestants judge 16 cattle divided into four groups (called "pens") of four animals each. They do this for each of six different breeds, or classes, of cattle.

"A person has to be focused," said Burch, "and definitely has to pay attention."

This year, the Tigers placed eighth in what Burch called "a much more challenging competition" in the carloads category.

Oklahoma State University was the overall winner in Denver, followed by Kansas State University, Colorado State, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas A&M, Fresno State, Iowa State and Michigan State and, in 10th, FHSU.

The Denver competition was actually the third of the young season, which operates on a calendar year (ending in November at the National Championships in Louisville, KY).

Ashley Stull, Natoma senior, and Evan Cooper, Burdett junior, also turned in strong performances, said Burch.

At the Arizona National Livestock Judging Classic early in January, the Tigers finished fourth overall in a 14-team field. Colorado State University repeated as the overall winner, with Texas A&M second and New Mexico State University third.

Within the species, FHSU was fifth in swine judging, fourth in beef, second in sheep and fourth in reasons.

In the individual placings, Wolfe won his second competition in a row with a total score of 866 to top the field of 110 contestants. Another Tiger, Kelsey Kennedy, Myrtle Point, OR, junior, also finished in the top ten.

The first official contest of the season was in December at the Express Ranches Cattle Judging Contest in Yukon, OK.

FHSU finished third in a field of 23 teams from as far east as Middle Tennessee State, as far north as North Dakota and south as Texas A&M, Kingsville. The Tigers' finish gave them a $200 cash prize.

They finished just seven points behind Kansas State and 19 points behind the reigning national champions, Texas A&M. In the individual contest, Wolfe won both reasons and the overall with a score of 759.

The next contest for the Tigers is the Sioux Empire Stock Show, Sioux Falls, S.D., on Jan. 31.

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