Wool judging team wraps up successful season
In a final competition at the Houston Livestock Show in March, the University of Wyoming (UW) Collegiate Wool Judging team wrapped up a successful 2023 season, earning high team overall in the value-added category and sixth high team overall.
Additionally, team member Joe Mills was named an All-American, the only student from a non-Texas institution to receive the honor. All-American status is determined by judging season results, community involvement and GPA.
“Itʼs always rewarding is to see the individual growth of these students,” says Whit Stewart, UW Extension sheep specialist and head of UW’s sheep program. “They all began with very little to no knowledge of the wool industry but embraced a willingness to learn.”
2023 Wool Judging team
The 2023 team was made up of members Bailey Arends of Brighton, Colo.; Kristy Benjamin of Pinedale; Kirby Hales of Laramie; Hadlee Hollinger of Casper; Joe Mills of Peyton, Colo.; Todd Paisley of Wheatland; Megan Perez of Aurora, Colo.; Emi Ramirez of Steamboat Springs, Colo. and Morgan Stratman of Stromsburg, Neb.
Courtney Newman, a graduate student in the UW Department of Animal Science and alumna of the UW Wool Judging team, served as head coach. Assistant coaches were Wyatt Crane, Dylan Laverell and Amy Newman. Tessa Maurer, a member of the 2022 wool judging team, also pitched in to lead practice sessions.
The UW Wool Judging Team kicked off the 2023 season with a strong showing at the 7220 Wool Judging Invitational in Laramie on Jan. 10. They were the second high team overall as well as high team in placings, high team in grading rail, high team in live animal evaluation and second team in reasons.
Paisley was named high individual overall and high individual in placings.
Two days later, the UW wool judgers earned fourth high team overall at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. They again placed fourth overall at the Black Hills Wool Judging Contest in Rapid City, S.D. on Jan. 31.
In February, UW tied for second high team overall at the San Antonio Collegiate Wool Judging Contest in San Antonio. While they lost the tiebreaker, the team earned third in grading rail, fifth in placings and sixth in reasons.
“In addition to the accolades, it’s the character refinement the judging process forges that brings it full circle,” says Stewart. “We’re passionate about building leaders and advocates for the sheep industry, but it’s also about developing people. I’m blown away by how unwavering the support is from the agricultural community.”
Brooke Ortel is a writer and editor for UW Extension. This article was originally published in UW Ag News on April 14.