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Youth impress at NWSS

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The National Western Stock Show (NWSS) is currently underway, and livestock exhibitors, rodeo athletes and visitors from far and wide have converged in Denver for the annual jam-packed, 16-day event. 

Known as the “Super Bowl of Livestock Shows,” NWSS provides a sweeping venue to display and sort through some of the highest-quality stock from across the U.S. and Canada.

Since NWSS kicked off on Jan. 6, youth livestock exhibitors have impressed in the ring, including one of Wyoming’s own – Blair Sanchez.

Local Catch-A-Calf winner

Junior market livestock shows kicked off on Jan. 7 with the Catch-A-Calf contest, NWSS’s longest-running program of practical beef cattle management.  

During the “Grand Drive on the Green Carpet” in the historic Stadium Arena, Sanchez, who hails from Burns, exhibited the 2024 NWSS Grand Champion Catch-A-Calf Steer, fondly referred to as Tyson.

“My steer’s name is Tyson after the fighter Mike Tyson, not after Tyson Foods,” noted Sanchez. 

The young exhibitor further explained she received her steer in May from Day Cattle Ranch and was assigned to her sponsor, Jo Adams. Through the summer months, Sanchez spent hours in the barn preparing for the big show. 

“I was getting up before the sun rose to get him rinsed, blown out, fed and back in the barn before the sun came up for the day,” she said. “I would spend hours in the barn with him tied up to teach him to keep his head up and to comb and roto-brush his hair to try to keep it straight.”

When the sun retired for the day, Sanchez would pull Tyson out of the barn, just to repeat the process all over again. 

“While I was doing this, I also had to fill out monthly progress forms consisting of total pounds of grain and hay fed and average daily gain, as well as purchase history including the price of feed and other expenses,” she added.

Sanchez noted the program also requires participants to fill out a monthly questionnaire and write a monthly letter to their sponsors to keep them up to date on their projects. 

Because of her months-worth of hard work and dedication, Sanchez said she was confident when it finally came time to show off her project in Denver.

“I was very confident I had done well in the other categories, and if I could be in the top two for showmanship and market, I thought I would win,” she remarked. “When I won the showmanship class, it didn’t feel real. My sponsor hugged me while she was crying.” 

“I went in to my market class, which was very hard, and I ended up winning,” she added. “I looked ringside and my sister and brother were cheering and punching each other. My mom, aunt and friends cheered loudly and most of them were crying. I knew how proud they were of me and that is a feeling I will never forget.”

Although the back-to-back wins in the ring were exciting, Sanchez wasn’t officially crowned champion until the awards ceremony the following day. 

“They started announcing placings in each category – sponsor relations, industry performance, interview, showmanship, live evaluation and record book,” she explained. “I was adding up points, and after they announced the performance category, I knew I had won.” 

“Finally hearing my name called for grand was amazing,” she continued. “My dream had come true and all of the hard work paid off. I could say I was a NWSS Grand Champion.” 

Sanchez humbly attributes her success to the support system she has by her side.

“I would like to thank everyone who helped me along the way to accomplish this – my mom and aunt for hauling me around and paying the bills; my sponsor, sister and brother for being the biggest cheerleaders and my sister and brother-in-law for teaching me so much,” she concluded.

Other junior market show results 

Junior market livestock shows continued on Jan. 10 with the NWSS Junior Market Lamb Show. Kinley Pruett of Oklahoma was crowned grand champion and Carson Keller of Kansas was reserve champion. 

On Jan. 13, Oklahoma’s Sayde Allen topped the NWSS Junior Market Goat Show, followed by Dayton Mortvedt of Iowa as reserve.

Three days later, junior hog showmen took to the ring. The 2024 NWSS Grand Champion Hog was exhibited by Gavin Straka of Oklahoma, and the Reserve Champion Hog was exhibited by Kamlyn Mason of Texas. 

Last but certainly not least, beef exhibitors lined up on the Green Carpet on Jan. 17. 

A steer shown by Croix Reimann, hailing from South Dakota, received the “Grand Champion Slap,” and Iowa’s Mason Shalla took home the title of NWSS Reserve Champion Junior Market Steer. 

Keep an eye out for more NWSS results in future editions of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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