Routt County Livestock Judging team heading to major competition for 3rd year
This week the area’s top livestock judging team will carry on a Routt County tradition when they head to Kansas City, Missouri, for the American Royal, one of biggest national competitions of the year.
“I don’t know if it’s rare,” coach Rod Wille said of attending five national championship level events since 2010. “I just think we have good success because we work hard, we practice all the time and the kids are really dedicated. It’s something that we’re pretty passionate about, so that’s kind of a winning recipe.”
This is the third time, with Wille as its coach, that a Routt County team has gone to the American Royal. The team earned an invitation by placing second at the Colorado State Fair earlier this year. Two other times the team has headed to the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. The winner of the Colorado State Fair is traditionally invited to that event.
Wille, and fellow coach Rod Olinger, will join this year’s team that consists of competitors Levi Allen from Steamboat Springs, Olivia and Kayla Rossi from South Routt County and Josie Meyring from Hayden. The competition is slated to begin Sunday in Hale Arena, a 5,000-seat, multipurpose arena in Kansas City.
“I’m pretty excited for this opportunity and for our team to be able to go out and do this,” Olivia Rossi said. “I think that if we get our heads set right and press our abilities that we have potential to get in the top three.”
She said this group has been competing as a team since they were 10 years old and juniors in the Routt County 4-H program. They have grown up watching their older team members set a standard of excellence and an expectation they can win.
On the day of competition the team will start their day by judging the livestock, which includes cattle, sheep, swine and goats. In the afternoon they will be called to give their reasons for six of the 10 classes they judged. Wille said it’s important to rank the animals correctly to begin with, but the reasoning is where most livestock judging competitions are won and loss.
“You always put the good ones up, and the bad ones down, and the kids need to learn what a good one looks like and what a bad one looks like. They also need to know how to present their decisions and defend their choices if they want to earn a good score,” Wille said.
Allen said the American Royal is a chance to see high-quality stock including sheep, swine and goats, that will test his skills as a judge, but the Steamboat junior said he can’t wait to see the cattle in Kansas City.
“I’ve grown up on a fifth-generation cattle ranch, so that’s familiar to me,” Allen said. “That’s what I honestly like looking at … it’s always fun to just go out there and see good quality livestock, but if I had to say, cattle would be my favorite.”
The four participants will go through the process as individuals but at the end of the day their scores will contribute to the team’s success.
“This is actually our team’s first time going to any national contest,” Allen said. “We are a super young team … but I know we got a lot of potential.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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