Texas A&M Livestock Judging Team

Texas A&M University Livestock Judging TeamHOUSTON — The Texas A&M Livestock Judging Team closed out the spring competition season in a big way at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Intercollegiate Livestock Judging Contest on March 17, winning first place overall and securing the top three high individual overall awards.The Aggie team led the field by a 50-point margin, defeating Western Illinois University, Texas Tech University, Oklahoma State University and Purdue University, respectively, with near-perfect finishes in each division. A&M won high team in the cattle and reasons divisions, and second high team in sheep/goats and swine divisions.Jake Franke, team coordinator, said this win was a team effort that paid off in the end. “I am very proud of each member and assistant for their relentless hard work, drive to be the best at what they do and the time and dedication they brought forth in preparing for Houston.”

Aggie team members racked-up a long list of individual honors including:

  • Joe Rathmann of Bastrop – first high individual overall and first high individual in beef cattle;
  • Cassidy Hayes of Port Lavaca – second high individual overall and first high individual in swine;
  • Dustin Valusek of Rosharon – third high individual overall and first high individual in reasons;
  • Corey Taylor of Humble – first high individual overall alternate division;
  • Caleb Wendt of Needville – third high individual overall alternate division;
  • Kasey Lettunich of Stephenville – fifth high individual in sheep/goats;
  • Lance Bearb of Church Point, La. – fourth high individual in reasons;
  • Kevin Gleason of Waxahachie – eighth high individual in cattle.

Also competing were Kenton Kirkpatrick of Bryan; Rebecca Hamilton of Woodine, Md.; Sidney Wilkinson of Trinidad, Colo.; Kaitlyn Grimshaw of Pleasonton; Casey Henly of St. Augustine; Brian Weaver of Center Point; Paul Wunderlich of Brenham; Chance Muehlstein of Kerrville; and Webb Fields of Mt. Pleasant.

The team is coached by Franke and assistant coaches Carl Muntean, Cody Sloan and Jake Thorne.

The Houston competition ends the spring judging contest season. “This win has given the team motivation as they start to prepare and think about the upcoming fall contests,” Franke said.

In addition to the team members and coaches, Dr. Gary Acuff, Animal Science department head, and Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, attended the awards banquet on March 18 in Houston.

“I am very thankful to have such a great support system from our department and the college. Our students are very fortunate to have their encouragement and backing,” Franke said.

The judging contest requires six-member teams, with five members’ scores counting toward team awards. Contestants judge four animals in separate cattle, swine, lamb and goat classes. The animals are evaluated on conformation and appearance. The contestants turn in scorecards as well as present an oral set of reasons for choosing the class animals in the order they did. Formal judges’ scores are compared to the contestants’, and point values are given or deducted depending on how similar the contest scored the breed class.

Earlier this spring, the Livestock Judging Team finished first at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, second at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and fourth at the National Western Stock Show.


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