Texas Tech finished second overall.
Koby Valentine, a junior from Clovis, New Mexico, captured the individual national championship, and the Texas Tech University Meat Judging Team finished as reserve grand champion in the 2018 American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest Sunday (Nov. 11) in Dakota City, Nebraska.
Jessie Featherstone, a junior from Atascadero, California, finished as the national champion individual in the alternate division for Texas Tech. As a team, the Red Raiders came up just shy of defending their 2017 national championship, finishing second behind Oklahoma State, 4,188-4,140.
“These kids are an awesome group of great hearts who worked to become excellent,” said Mark Miller, coach of the Meat Judging Team and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Distinguished Chair in Meat Sciences in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences. “They set a new record in lamb judging and in reasons. They are the only team in Texas Tech history to score more than the very elusive 900 in reasons with a score of 902. I am so proud of them, and they represent the spirit of Texas Tech University well in all they do.”
Valentine's effort was paced by his first-place finishes in lamb judging, pork judging and reasons/questions. He also finished second in overall beef and earned top-five finishes in beef grading and specifications to finish with 1,078 points, a record at the national championships, according to Miller.
That helped Texas Tech finish first as a team in lamb judging, pork judging and reasons/questions and second in beef judging and specifications.
Thachary Mayer, a senior from Cameron, finished among the top 10 individuals while Colton Smith, a senior from Kingfisher, Oklahoma, took third place in both pork judging and reasons/questions.
Valentine and Mayer were selected as all-Americans based upon contest performances throughout the season and their academic excellence.
Travis Tilton, a junior from Cleburne, was selected as the Rachel Hamilton Award recipient, which is given in recognition of the commitment, dedication and teamwork displayed during a team member's meat judging career.
Featherstone surged to the alternate division crown by taking first place in overall beef, beef grading, beef judging, lamb judging, specifications and reasons/questions and finishing in the top 10 in lamb judging and placing. Miller said her 853 points was the second-highest point total attained in the national championships in the alternate division.
Kade Clapper, a junior from Georgetown, finished third in the alternate division while Cole Bendele, a junior from Hondo, and Dyllan Galligan, a senior from Brighton, Colorado, each finished in the top 10.
Other members of the meat judging team are:
- Zach Buckley, a junior from Clovis, California
- Eddie Davilla, a senior from Los Angeles
- Megan Eckhardt, a junior from New Braunfels
- Case Hendrix, a junior from Princeton
- Rafe Royall, a senior from Garden City, Texas
- Chandler Sarchet, a junior from Anton
- Sarah Spradlin, a junior from Granbury
- Taylor Stubenbordt, a senior from Graham
- Taylor Swinson, a senior from Sulphur Springs
- Courteney Walker, a senior from Roswell, New Mexico
Also helping coach the team are graduate students Erin Beyer and Clay Bendele.
“This year's coaches did an awesome job of preparing this team to achieve excellence,” Miller said. “The record-setting performance of the team and individuals are a tribute to their outstanding coaching.”