December 17, 2003

It may only be early winter, but the Commonwealth already can brag it has one team that made it to the final four in a national contest.

The 2003 Kentucky 4-H livestock judging team finished fourth overall at this year’s national livestock judging contest held Nov. 18 in Louisville.  Two members of the team achieved “All-American” status.

The team consisted of Brent Brockman, Taylor County; Shelley Wade, Harrison County; Shannon Wade, Harrison County; and Michelle Ogden, Hardin County.

They competed against 34 other state teams comprised of more than 130 individuals from across the country. 

“This is the fourth time in the past eight years we have achieved a ‘top five’ placing, and the second time in four years we’ve had two All-Americans,” said Monty Chappell, team coach and a 4-H livestock specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Shannon Wade placed eighth overall and Brent Brockman placed 19th among the 130 national contestants. The top 20 finishers received All-American status.

Chappell said it is rare to have two All-Americans from the same team.  Only Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland matched Kentucky’s achievement this year. 

“I think we can be very proud of these four young persons because they are good people, hard workers and real competitors who hung in there through some very close contests,” Chappell said.

The team achieved its fourth place overall ranking behind a second place finish in swine judging and fourth place finishes in oral reasons and beef cattle judging.

“The pressure these kids work under is as draining as any top notch athletic contest,” Chappell noted.  “For instance, they have to judge ten classes of animals during a three-hour time period and if you don’t get every class placed well, you will have a very difficult time competing with the best.”

The team refined its skills for the national contest by putting up some impressive scores in a regional contest. The team was third overall and second in oral reasons at the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrodsburg, Pa., where Brockman was the high individual in swine and third overall.

Each year more than 130 senior contestants from more than 30 Kentucky counties compete for a position on the four-person roster.

“Since July, these young people have dedicated about 25 full days to practice, travel, and competition to achieve these honors,” Chappell said.  ”The kids and their parents deserve a lot of credit and this year they did not go unrewarded.”