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The WIU Livestock Judging Team is pictured at Vickland Show Cattle in Colorado.
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WIU Livestock Judging Teams Placed Fourth in National Competition

January 22, 2018

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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Livestock Judging Team captured fourth place at the National Western competition in Denver, CO earlier this month.

The team finished in fourth place in both the Cattle and Reasons divisions. Additionally, WIU junior agriculture major Luke Wechter, of Ligonier, IN, placed eighth in reasons and seventh overall. Junior agriculture major Chase Taylor, of Corunna, IN, finished tenth in the swine category and senior agriculture major Raelynn Thompson, of Patoka, IN, finished eighth in the cattle category. Junior agriculture major Hunter Langholff, of Wisconsin Rapids, WI, finished ninth overall in the carload contest category.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment considering there were 26 university teams from across the country in the competition," said team advisor WIU Associate Professor of Agriculture Mark Hoge.

The competition is made up of 12 classes and eight sets of reasons, covering the four livestock species of cattle, sheep, goats and swine. Each class has four animals in it and competitors have 15 minutes to rank the four animals. After competitors judge the 12 classes, they give oral reasons on eight of the classes to an official judge to defend their rankings. Each set of reasons are scored on accuracy, content and presentation.

Thompson said the WIU Livestock Judging Team worked for several weeks in November, December and early January to prepare for the contest, leaving for Colorado Jan. 6.

"A week on the road in a 15-passenger van consisted of many different stops at very prestigious farms, were we saw tons of elite livestock and gained the knowledge and confidence we needed to compete in this national contest," said Thompson. "We bonded with teammates and coaches, interacted and properly communicated with industry leaders, and truly made memories that will last a lifetime. Roughly, we saw 80-plus classes of livestock just prior to Denver's contest." 

Thompson said the team was happy with its showing at the competition and an event banquet allowed for additional opportunities to learn.

"We are pleased with our first main voyage success, and look forward to working hard to gain the respect, honor, and hardware that comes with winning national livestock judging contest," said Thompson.

Hoge said the competition was a "tremendous start" for the 2018 team.

"Every time the team travels to a competition we strive to represent WIU in the best fashion possible," he said. "We are proud to say that we have one of the nation's best collegiate judging teams year in and out. I couldn't be more excited to take this group on through the spring. We're not only building competitive evaluators, but we are building tomorrow's leaders."

For more information about the WIU School of Agriculture, visit

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