West Texas A&M University’s meat judging team

The West Texas A&M University’s meat judging team placed in the top three at a recent international competition, its highest ranking ever. Local members include Will Boyd and Jake Gillespie of Joshua and Travis Tilton of Cleburne.

CANYON — West Texas A&M University’s meat judging team placed in the top three at a recent international competition, its highest ranking ever.  

“This is easily the most successful WT meat judging team in history,” said Dr. Loni Lucherk, assistant professor of animal science and coach of the student team. “What’s really unexpected is that only four of the 10 students had ever competed in meat judging before this year.”  

Two members finished the season on the second team of All-American Meat Judges, the first in WT history. Will Boyd, a senior animal science major from Joshua, and Jenna Mayer, a senior animal science major from Bushland, both made the All-American team based on academic excellence and contest performance throughout the year.  

The WT team finished third at the international meat judging contest Nov. 14 at Tyson Fresh Meats in Dakota City, Nebraska. It was the only team to place in the top four of each category.  

Over the course of the fall season, the team traveled to 13 states to compete in eight contests, peaking with second place finishes at the Mountain West contest in Laramie, Wyoming; the Iowa State contest in Ames, Iowa; the Eastern National contest in Columbus, Ohio; and the Cargill High Plains contest in Friona. The team also finished third at the Fort Worth Stock Show.  

In meat judging, teams evaluate beef, pork and lamb carcasses and cuts for attributes such as quality, trimness and muscling.   

“Meat judging teaches much more than information about meat or the meat industry,” Lucherk said. “Being a part of a judging team teaches the students how to work hard for something bigger than themselves, work with others that may not be like them, decision-making, how to defend their decision, and so much more.”  

Team members also include Madysn Shook, a junior animal science — pre-vet major from Amarillo; Abby Reed, a senior agriculture major from Wolfe City; Claire Shaw, a senior animal science major from Wichita Falls; Meagan Wootton, a junior animal science major from Lewiston, Idaho; Koelle Brandenberger, a sophomore agribusiness and economics major from Corona, New Mexico; Jake Gillespie, a senior agribusiness and economics major from Joshua; Kordell Kraich, a senior animal science major from Brush, Colorado; and Zachary McDonough, a senior animal science major from Plainview. Graduate student coach is Travis Tilton of Cleburne.

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