Texas Tech finished the spring and fall competition season with a historic feat, claiming an unblemished record at 7-0.
With a dominating performance that capped a historic run through the spring and fall seasons, the Texas Tech Meat Judging Team in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources claimed its third national championship in the last five years and the 13th in program history on Sunday at the American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Nebraska.
The win allowed Texas Tech to finish the spring and fall season with a perfect 7-0 record, the first 7-0 mark in 44 years. Prior to 1973, there were only six competitions on the schedule.
The Challenge Trophy is returning to Lubbock.
"The Meat Judging Team was able to achieve perfection because they humbled themselves and trusted God and not themselves,” said Mark Miller, coach of the Meat Judging Team and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Distinguished Chair in Meat Sciences. "They had great faith in him to deliver the victories. All of the glory goes to their faith and trust in God for this impossible perfect national championship season.”
It is the fifth national championship for the Meat Judging Team this decade, having won the crown in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015, and the seventh title in the last 10 years.
Texas Tech easily outdistanced second-place Kansas State University, 4,185-4,134, and third place Colorado State University, which totaled 4,116 points. Oklahoma State came in fourth with 4,109 points followed by Texas A&M University with 4,018.
Angelo State University, a member of the Texas Tech University System, rounded out the top 10 with 3,774 points.
"Congratulations to Dr. Miller and our students on winning the national championship,” said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. "Our meat judging program has been the national standard for many years and the students continue to represent Texas Tech University well at the highest level.”
Texas Tech dominated the individual categories, winning five of the seven – overall beef (2,164 points), beef grading (1,049), beef judging (1,115), specifications (400) and reasons (837). Texas Tech also finished second in lamb judging (565).
Also for the second time in three years, Texas Tech had the top two individual finishers in the competition in Maddy Ainsley and April Molitor, both juniors from Hondo. They repeated what current graduate student assistant coaches Erin Beyer and Clay Bendele accomplished in 2015.
Ainsley claimed top honors with 1,054 points, just ahead of Molitor, who totaled 1,049 points. Ainsley finished in the top five in five of the eight categories, winning the reasons competition and claiming second in lamb judging while taking third in both overall beef and beef judging. Molitor finished first or second in four categories, winning overall beef and specifications while taking second in beef grading and beef judging.
Also claiming a top-five finish was Kaylee Martin, a junior from Roscoe who finished fourth with 1,044 points. Martin finished third in specifications and fifth in beef grading.
Rounding out Texas Tech's top 10 finishers was Ben Mills, a junior from Shallowater who finished sixth. He took fourth place in specifications and fifth place in overall beef.
Ainsley and Mills were named first-team all-Americans while Molitor earned second-team all-American honors. All-American honors are based upon scholastic achievement and competition performance.
Texas Tech also had three individuals finish in the top 10 of the alternates division. Delaney Hanagan, a junior from Artesia, New Mexico, finished fourth (831 points). Kyle Mahagan, a senior from Plainview, and Dean Chapman, a junior from Sweetwater, finished in ninth and 10th place, respectively, each with 826 points.
Chapman earned the prestigious Rachel Hamilton Spirit and Motivation Award, which is given in recognition of the commitment, dedication and teamwork displayed during a team member's meat judging career.
"The Meat Judging Team not only won the National Championship but also had a perfect season, 7-0, which has never happened,” said Michael Orth, chairman of the Department of Animal & Food Sciences. "Great coaches, great students and a great work ethic produced great results. I am extremely proud of all of them.”
Other members of the Meat Judging Team are:
- Jordan Bachler, a junior from Florence
- Legrand Bouyi, a senior from Brazzaville, The Republic of Congo
- Kenna Faulkenberry, a senior from Stephenville
- Sam Spradlin, a junior from Granbury
"We are very proud of our Meat Judging Team as they have raised the bar from excellence to perfection with this national championship,” said Steven Fraze, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.
Instructor Loni Lucherk serves as a coach for the team as well, with assistance from graduate students Nick Hardcastle, Bendele and Beyer.