Texas A&M livestock judging team wins national championship

Team claims 12th national title

Writer: Courtney Coufal, 979-845-1542, cacoufal@tamu.edu

LOUISVILLE – The Texas A&M University Livestock Judging Team claimed the 2013 national championship at the National Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest on Nov. 18, marking its 12th national livestock judging title.

The contest took place at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville. It is the oldest and most prestigious livestock judging contest in the nation, according to event organizers.

Collegiate judging teams travel throughout the U.S. each year participating in contests, in preparation for this culminating national event and hoping to take away the grand title.

(Front right) Justin James, MaKayla Spaman, Keaton Dodd, Everleigh Hayes and Corey Sanchez. Back left, Caleb Boardman, coach, Cassidy Hayes, coach, Holly Behrens, Brett Moriarty, Konni Kelso, and Brant Poe, coach.

(Front right) Justin James, MaKayla Spaman, Keaton Dodd, Everleigh Hayes and Corey Sanchez. (Back left) Caleb Boardman, coach, Cassidy Hayes, coach, Holly Behrens, Brett Moriarty, Konni Kelso, and Brant Poe, coach.

This year, 151 individuals from 31 universities participated in the competition. During the judging contest, teams of five students from each university evaluated five classes of beef cattle, four classes of swine and three classes of sheep. Students were also required to present oral reasons – explaining why they placed animals in a particular order – for eight of the classes they placed.

Texas A&M won the contest with 4,662 of 5,000 possible points, outscoring second place Texas Tech University by 18 points. Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University and Iowa State University finished third through fifth, respectively. As a team, Texas A&M won first place in the cattle and sheep categories, second in swine and third in reasons.

“The 2013 team is excited and honored to bring another national championship home to Aggieland and carry on the tradition,” said Brant Poe, lecturer in the department of animal science and team coordinator. “These young men and women understand that they were representing something more than just themselves, they performed their best for their team and the university.”

Team members are Holly Behrens, Port Lavaca; MaKayla Spaman, Oakdale, Calif.; Kit Clostio, Sweene; Zach Davis, Willis; Keaton Dodd, Blanco; Katie Eslick, Winters, Calif.; Justin James, Prosper; Kati Keys, Riverton, Wyo.; Brett Moriarty, Spokane, Wash. and Corey Sanchez, Bangs, all senior animal science majors. Rounding out the team is Everleigh Hayes, senior agricultural leadership and development major from Port Lavaca; and Konni Kelso, senior agribusiness major from Seguin.

The team is coached by Poe and his assistants, animal science graduate students Caleb Boardman and Cassidy Hayes.

Of the 12 students on the team, eight made the “traveling squad” to Louisville and five were chosen to judge in the contest. Competing on the winning team were Dodd, Hayes, James, Sanchez and Spaman. In individual rankings, Hayes won fourth high overall, third high in cattle and reasons, and eighth high in swine; James won sixth high overall and first in sheep; Dodd scored seventh high overall; and Sanchez finished seventh high in cattle.

“Teamwork is such a vital component of the judging experience. I firmly believe that the team’s success hinged on their ability to push each other to improve daily,” Poe said. “In addition, the judging team traveled to the nation’s most elite livestock operations, honing their evaluation skills viewing quality livestock while hearing management and breeding philosophies of owners and managers. Gaining an appreciation of animal agriculture operations in various parts of the country and insight into successful operations are invaluable experiences.

“I am proud of this team, of course, for being crowned national champions, but also for taking full advantage of the opportunities judging offers, and growing in agriculture knowledge as well as life skills.”

As the championship team, Texas A&M was presented two highly-coveted valuable works of art. The first is a bronze bull known as “The Spoor Trophy.” Over the past 108 years, approximately 3,000 teams and more than 20,000 contests have competed for the famous bronze bull. The other award is the silver epergne, a perpetual challenge trophy. This trophy was first presented in 1950, and is valued in the six-figure range, according to national livestock exposition officials.

The Livestock Judging Team at Texas A&M has built a program rich in history and success, beginning with the first team in 1904, and has claimed the bronze bull 11 additional times in 1913, 1919, 1959, 1965, 1967, 1987, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

“The judging teams in the department of animal science are a vital component and contribute immensely to the overall success of our teaching program. The teams bring tremendous visibility to our department and to Texas A&M through national championships,” said Dr. Russell Cross, head of animal science. “We are proud of this team for joining the elite group of former students who have won before them and for being such wonderful ambassadors for the university.”

Moriarty was named to the 2013 All-American Livestock Judging Team. The All-American team recognizes the top 10 livestock judging team members from across the nation who have made a personal commitment to livestock judging and who have excelled in academics, university and industry activities, and community service. A total of 42 students were nominated this year.

In addition to livestock judging, Moriarty has been a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Council, the Saddle & Sirloin Club and the Aggie REPS organization within the department of animal science. He has worked as a research assistant in cattle nutrition and as a sales intern for a livestock health technology marketer. He coaches the 4-H and FFA livestock judging team in Burleson, and volunteers at the Agricultural Career Exposition at Texas A&M. After graduation, Moriarty said he plans to further his education by pursuing a master’s of business education and hopes to become a successful entrepreneur within the agricultural field.

“Brett is very deserving of this award,” Poe said. “By juggling his commitment to the judging team with excelling in his coursework and participating in many other activities, Brett demonstrates strong leadership skills that make him a valuable member of this team and are indicative of the success he will find in graduate school and his career.”

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