CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University’s meat judging team is celebrating a national victory as they took home the win at the American Royal Meat Judging contest on Sunday in Omaha, Neb. and set a new school record in the process.

Officials detailed that the team score of 4,237 was the highest in WT history, beating Oklahoma State University by 30 points. WT’s score, according to Dr. Loni Lucherk, Gordon W. Davis Endowed Chair in Meat Judging and team coach, has only been reached eight times by three universities in the history of meat judging.

“We have been extremely close to a win the past three years, and this team didn’t just win: They set a record with a massive score,” Lucherk said. “This was due to the depth and consistency of the students on the team. I preach to be your very best, whether that is a perfect score or just a five-point improvement from your last performance. This was as close to a perfect performance as a coach could ask for. The meat judging program has been heating up; now, we are on fire.”

Officials noted that the team ranked first in beef grading, lamb judging, total beef and placings; second in beef judging; and third in reasons and specifications.

“Winning a national contest like the American Royal is not easy. Contests like this require students to gather information, make decisions, and then persuasively defend their decisions—all while in an intensely competitive environment and under time pressure,” said Dr. David Lust, head of WT’s Department of Agriculture in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. “Dr. Lucherk does an outstanding job coaching our students to be knowledgeable and mentally ready for top-level competition. Her teams have been consistently near the top in contests during the last year and earlier this season, and it is gratifying to see their hard work pay off with this dominant breakthrough win.”

Before the national competition win, the team was named reserve champion at the Eastern National Meat Judging Content in September. The team is also set to be featured on an episode of “Around Texas with Chancellor John Sharp” on Oct. 29 on Panhandle PBS. The episode can be found here statewide on Oct. 26.

According to officials, the meat judging programs “are the most effective tool for the recruitment and development of future meat science technologists.” The program goes beyond judging the quality of meat but trains students to develop the skills needed for the meat and livestock industries.

Officials released the following results from the competition:

  • Eli Mathis, a sophomore agribusiness major from Covington, placed second overall and first place in beef judging and fourth in lamb judging;
  • Madison Colvin, a junior agriculture major from Bryan, ranked sixth overall, first in lamb judging, and fourth in placings;
  • Megan Miller, a senior agribusiness major from Silver City, New Mexico, ranked ninth overall, third in placings and fifth in beef judging;
  • Colt Edrington, a junior agribusiness and economics major from Grandview, was third in the alternate division; and
  • Juan Carlos Buentello, a senior animal science major from Angleton, was fifth in the alternate division.

The team is coached by Lucherk and by Megan Eckhardt, a doctoral student in agriculture, officials noted.

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