Straight out the gate, the Fort Hays State University Livestock Judging Team began the semester with a win at the Direct Line Genetics Cattle Judging contest in Devil's Tower, WY,
" Though the contest was small, it was certainly not low on quality," said Kolby Burch, livestock judging coach. "We really dominated the contest there."
The Tigers had four of the top five overall in the contest. Matt Wolfe, Indianola, NE, senior, was high individual overall. Kiley McKinna, Hays senior, followed in second; Kelsey Kennedy, Myrtle Point, OR, senior, placed fourth; Evan Cooper, Burdett senior, placed fifth; and Ashley Stull, Natoma senior, placed eighth.
From Devil's Tower, the team traveled to Austin, MN, to compete in the National Barrow Show swine judging competition. The team finished ninth out of the 15 universities competing.
" The kids did well considering they had been on the road for quite a few days," Burch said. "Travel can definitely wear a person down."
Wolfe took sixth overall in individual placing in that competition.
Each competition tested and evaluated the students' knowledge of livestock, their observation skills and their communication skills.
Burch said that while the team members are the same as last year, their dynamics have changed.
" This is the team that we hauled all spring," he said. "This fall, the difference is that they've matured over the summer. They've refocused on their goals that they started in January and have been working really hard on them."
" They have a lot of potential; they've shown it in a lot of contests," he said. "They've proven that we can beat any team, but have also proven that we can be beat by any team. It's just a matter of proving that we can do well and getting them into the right mindset so that they're all in sync."
Burch said the team was at a slight disadvantage during the first two competitions since they were the only team with five members instead of seven to compete. He said the teams of seven were later able to drop their two lowest scores, improving their overall total.
Next up for the team is the Mid-America Classic Sept. 25 in Wichita, pitting FHSU against some noteworthy competitors.
" Some of the teams this year are as tough as last year, like Texas A&M," Burch said. "We've been 'in the mix; so to speak, with some of those schools during the spring contest."
The American Royal in Kansas City, MO, Oct. 23, and the National Championship in Louisville, KY, Nov. 15 -- two of the biggest competitions according to Burch -- will conclude the fall 2004 semester.