University News

Ag Student Defies the Odds

November 3, 2006

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MACOMB, IL – Eric Brunton, a Western Illinois University senior agriculture major from Linden, IN, recently obtained the unthinkable: two national livestock judging contest wins.

Brunton won the National Western Livestock Show in Denver, CO in January and a few months later, the American Royal, which was held Oct. 18-23 in Kansas City, MO.

“What makes my wins so unique is the fact that there are not a lot of people who have won one national contest, let alone two,” explained Brunton.

According to Mark Hoge, WIU assistant professor in animal science and ram evaluation station, agricultural schools consisting of about 35 teams come from across the country to compete in the judging competitions where students judge 12 classes of livestock and give eight sets of oral reasons. There are individual and team awards in beef, cattle, swine and sheep.

“Western’s team has been strong at these contests being in the top 10 and Eric accumulated the highest scores at the first two contests,” said Hoge.

The judging team members, including coaches Hoge and Bruce Engnell, University Farm coordinator, practice late in the evenings and on weekends during the spring and fall semesters to prepare for contests.

“I am willing to bet that the practice of and dedication put forth by the judging team is similar to any collegiate athletic team,” Hoge added.

In addition to Brunton, team members include senior agriculture students Derek Stayton from Carlinville; James Thompson from Macomb; Ben Olson from Alexis; Wade Stremsterfer from Pleasant Plains; Jason Crider from Arrowsmith; and Katie Casteel from Cambridge.

The team’s next competition is the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, KY during the second week of November.

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