Routt County 4-H livestock judging team wrapping up strong season |

Routt County 4-H livestock judging team wrapping up strong season

Teresa Ristow
Routt County's 4-H livestock judging junior and senior teams are wrapping up a strong competition season.

May 15 and 16 competition results:


Top junior team winners: Grace Olinger, first; Jess Diehl, second; Kayla Wille, fourth; Sophia Diehl, eighth; Hannah Hayes, 10th

Top senior team winners: Will Anderson, third; Kady Look, seventh; Tell Belton, eighth; Tia Rozell, 10th


Top junior team winners: Grace Olinger, first; Kayla Wilie, third; Tanner Ripley, ninth

Top senior team winners: Will Anderson, third; Tia Rozell, eighth

The junior team won first overall in both Montrose in Gunnison, while the senior team was second in Montrose and first in Gunnsion.

— Local students on the 4-H livestock judging team are wrapping up one of the group’s most successful seasons yet, according to coach Rod Wille.

The team returned from competitions in Montrose and Gunnison over the weekend, bringing back several top individual and team placements and also announced seven students who’ve earned recognition as part of the Colorado All-State team. The senior division of the team heads to a state competition in June and could be eligible to compete nationally.

“This is probably one of the best years we’ve ever had as a judging team,” said Wille, who has coached the 4-H livestock judging team for 17 years. “We had several kids make an All-State team, and we’ve never had that many before. It speaks volumes for how well they’ve done and how hard they’ve worked.”

Wille said competitions have the students ranking classes of beef, sheep, swine and goats based on their market value or breeding value. A competition judge gives the animals an official ranking of best to worst, which is then matched against the students’ rankings.

Students earn points based on how close their ranking is to the official rank and on their reasoning. They earn points individually, which are added together for team scores.

“We’re just trying to compile as many points as possible,” Wille said.

Roughly 30 Routt County students are part of this year’s team, which is separated into a junior division of 8- to 13-year-olds and a senior division 14- to 18-year-olds.

The team trains two days each week and competes nearly every weekend from March to June.

Students must not only rank the animals but explain their reasoning to competition judges.

Students could potentially go on to become livestock judges themselves after learning to judge through the student competitions, Wille said.

“It’s a great opportunity and helps you with public speaking,” said Kayla Wille, Rod Wille’s daughter and an eighth-grader on the junior division team. “You have to talk to the officials and talk in front of people.”

Kayla, 13, said the competitions teach you valuable skills if you’re interested in pursuing ranching or breeding.

“It can really help you to pick out better animals, and get into breeding,” said Kayla, who is interested in one day becoming a rancher and selling club lambs to other 4-H kids.

Kayla and junior team members Grace Olinger, Jess Diehl and Emmitt Meyring were recently named to the All-State team based on numerous strong performances during the junior season, which wrapped up with the competitions last weekend.

Senior team members named All-State were Tell Belton, Will Anderson and Hallie Myhre.

Belton, who began 4-H livestock judging when he was 9, said there is stiff competition at the events and just a couple of points can separate competitors by several places.

“It’s so tight, and everybody is so competitive,” said Belton, who turns 16 this week.

Although he is just finishing his sophomore year at Steamboat Springs High School, Belton said he’s hopeful that after graduating he will use a livestock judging scholarship to attend college.

This season is also nearly over for the senior team, which competes June 23 to 26 at the 4-H State Conference at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins.

Wilie said the competitions are not only a meaningful way to build public speaking and social skills for the students, but they also provide opportunities for sizeable scholarships for those interested in studying animal science or a related field in college.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.