Judging teams continue success
Amid COVID-19 restrictions from the University of Wyoming (UW) and contest cancellations, the UW Livestock Judging Team and Meat Judging Team look forward to continued success this fall.
The livestock judging team, which is currently ranked fifth in the nation, according to Coach Caleb Boardman, was very competitive at spring contests and has been working to continue their success at fall contests. The team has been taking day trips to contests nearby, such as the contest hosted at Casper College Sept. 19, and working out on livestock close to Laramie to sharpen their skills.
“We are really looking forward to being able to travel on overnight trips as we enter Phase Three of the university’s re-opening plan,” shares Boardman. “During the first week of October, the team will compete at the Flint Hills Classic contests and the Fall Upgrade contest, which replaces the contest normally held at Aksarben Stock Show in Grand Island, Neb.”
Over the summer, the judging team was forced to cancel their summer livestock judging camp for high school students. However, the team was able to help host both virtual and in-person judging contests with 4-H and assist with activities at the Wyoming State Fair.
Some team members competed in a virtual livestock judging contest with success earlier this spring. Courtney Newman was the high individual of the collegiate division, while teammates Hallie Myhre placed sixth and Amy Newman was seventh.
“I am very excited to have a fall with this team,” says Boardman. “They had a really good spring, and we have the team to make a good push at the contests this fall.”
The team was high team at the Arizona Nationals, the National Western Stock Show Carload Contest and the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic during their spring season.
“The team is anxious to be able to get out and compete,” Boardman notes. “COVID-19 has been a challenge for us. Unfortunately, due to restrictions, we have team members who aren’t able to travel with the team to contests.”
To round their season out, the team looks to compete at Kansas City, Kan. and Louisville, Ky.
“The junior team is up and going,” says Boardman. “There are 10 to 15 students looking to be on the 2021 team.”
The team’s new coach, Curtis Doubet, will take over the livestock judging program in December along with assistant coach, Shanan Davey.
The meat judging team at UW is not able to travel as of current, mostly because contests have been cancelled due to restrictions at packing facilities, according to Coach Sierra Jepsen.
“In lieu of in person contests, the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) has worked to put together virtual contests,” shares Jepsen, who serves on the AMSA virtual contest board. “We are trying to make the contests competitive and similar to an in-person contest.”
The meats judging team will participate in five virtual contests this fall, including three AMSA hosted contests and two invitational contests hosted by a triage of universities.
“I want our students to be able to show what they know,” says Jepsen. “They worked really hard in the spring to be extremely competitive. I want them to be able to continue to showcase their abilities.”
The team continues to practice virtually, according to Jepsen.
“Being that we have virtual contests, it only makes sense to practice virtually as well,” she says.
Jepsen also shares the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique opportunities for students in regards to collegiate meats judging.
“As long as students don’t compete at an in-person contest, their eligibility continues for them to compete in 2021, if they choose,” says Jepsen. “They could get two full years of judging.”
“The second benefit of COVID-19 is the junior team will be invited to judge virtually to gain experience this year,” Jepsen notes. “This opportunity gives them a chance to see how they are stacking up against other universities before they judge competitively.”
“We were not going to throw in the towel just because we can’t travel,” says Jepsen. “All of the students knew this was going to be a different year, but they continued to work to find ways to get back in the cooler, continue to practice and be competitive.”
“ I am very impressed with their excitement to continue meat judging,” Jepsen shares. “It could have been easy for them to say this wasn’t what they signed up for, but it inspires me that they keep working so hard.”
Averi Hales is the editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.