With the school year almost over, Northeastern Junior College’s Livestock Judging Coach Ben Cooley has much to look forward to when his freshmen team comes back in August as sophomores. At the recent North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Freshman Judging Contest held in El Reno, Oklahoma, the NJC team shined bright. If this is any indication of what’s to come next year, the odds are looking good.
The NACTA contest was hosted by the Redlands Community College and included 171 contestants representing 27 teams from 10 states.
The NJC freshmen team has been working hard since January when school got back in session following Christmas to prepare for this particular competition. “This was the final contest of their freshman year, next year they will be competing as sophomores at the national contests,” explains Cooley. “This was a good preparation and warm up for next fall. We had 13 students compete and two full teams. We put three individuals in the top 20 and both of the NJC teams were in the top 10.”
One team consisted of Derrick Brown (Fort Collins), Kamber Carlson (Stoneham), Weston Charles (Flagler), Wyatt Taylor (Kiowa), and Dan Sewald (Kiowa). This team earned a second overall, a tenth in oral reasons, first in cattle, fourth in sheep and eighth in swine.
The second team was made up of Garrett Liss (Elbert), Miranda Sims (Akron), Shelby Cunningham (Castle Rock), Heather Spaur (Johnstown) and Taya Lembke (Hemingford, NE). This team earned tenth overall, 15th in oral reasons, third in cattle, tenth in sheep and 22nd in swine. Also competing as individuals at the show were: Ryan Dreitz (Brush), Mack Witzel (Burlington), and Adam Seymour (Olathe).
Individual awards brought home by NJC included: Derrick Brown: 3rd Overall, 3rd Beef, 7th Sheep; Weston Charles: 15th Overall, 9th Swine; Wyatt Taylor: 16th Overall, 2nd Beef; Garrett Liss: 1st Beef; and Taya Lembke: 13th Sheep.
NJC’s sophomore team finished out the year with a solid showing, having traveled and competed a seven national contests. The team was condensed down to just a group of five which made competition especially challenging as most colleges try to have twice that number on the roster so that various substitutions can be made in the various competition categories. “We had five great sophomores who rode a lot of miles and represented NJC very well,” reports Cooley. “They are the kind of quality individuals that I would put up against anyone anywhere. We just fell short in a few key areas because we were small in number this year.”
The team coming on for next year represents one of the largest NJC livestock judging groups in many years.