Western Livestock judging team finishes first at National Western Stock Show.

Tyler Moseberry, Courier Staff

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The Western Illinois University Livestock judging team finished first at The National Western Stock Show. This win marks another in a long history of competing as one of the top-five nationally competitive judging teams. The show consists of classes (livestock) and reasons. Our placement was swine (third), sheep and goats (first), cattle (third), reasons (third), carload judging contest (fourth) and first overall.

Coaches Mark Hoge and Hayden Wilder are extremely proud of the team. He talked about the amazing work ethic and practice the team had put in the past month.

“It marks the first time that the WIU judging team has won Denver in many, many years,” Wilder said in an interview with WIU News.

At practice, the judging team studied the industry concepts and the different types of livestock. The judges who were evaluating the livestock, were the same judges who were a part of the overall competition. That way the teams were more familiar about the livestock and the expectations required of them in the competitions.

The reasons room encourages and promotes creativity and progressive concepts in terms of describing the livestock. Travelling is a must for this team, and it allows for the teams to bond and get to know one another.

The superintendent has complete charge of the contest. He/She must make sure all the rules and regulations are carried out with fairness and justice. The superintendent also decides all questions, which may arise with the interpretation of the rules.

A Committee of Officials then select and place all classes and score all reasons. The officials decide which classes require reasons. As far as rooting for the team goes, it may be a little difficult if you do not know the members, as uniforms and school colors are prohibited to avoid bias.

Contestants cannot confer among each other or anyone else unless directed to do so while the contest is in progress. Each animal is designated by numbers 1-2-3-4. Each species includes a minimum of one market class individual performance information are provided for one swine and beef breeding class.

This, along with subjective appraisal, will be used to calculate placing. Contestants are allowed 15 minutes to place each class with a two-minute time warning. Ratings are based on a score of up to 50 points for placing each ring provided by the superintendent and 50 points for each set of reasons which is based on their notes, but cannot be used while presenting them to officials. In total there are 12 classes to be placed and eight sets of reasons to be given, meaning there are 1,000 points possible per contestant. This is not only a lot of points, but a lot of information and practice required. Then the team ranking is determined by the added scores of the team’s individuals.

In the event of a tie, multiple tiebreakers are in place for who has the better score. The first are species reasons, second is an overall reason, third is the lower total placing score within species or overall and fourth is “Flip of the coin.” This is all because awards are not duplicated and there must be a winner.

The team will look to continue to study and practice time management which is important when they can have up to 20 hours a week of judging. The skills learned and practiced during these events are invaluable as many Western alumni’s continue into graduate and medical school.

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