Routt County youths seem to have quite the eye for cattle, swine and beef.
They also are pretty convincing when it comes to explaining their ratings to a panel of judges.
The Routt County Livestock Judging Team has taken first place in seven of the nine competitions in which it has participated this year. Last weekend, the team hosted a competition in Hayden.
"It has been a really, really good year," said 14-year-old Catharine Koroulis, who has been judging livestock for two years and took first place in the individual judging competition Saturday.
Local livestock producers provided the animals for the Hayden event. The students worked in teams and individually. They gave two-minute presentations to competition judges about why they chose certain animals as the best in their divisions.
"Not only do they learn about the livestock industry, but also public speaking," said Rod Wille, who has been coaching the team for 10 years. "It's a heck of a lot of fun, and they're really competitive."
Wille said the 15 Routt County students have been practicing for the competitions since February. He said this year's group has been the most impressive he has seen.
"Their biggest success is they're just hard-working kids," Wille said.
Rod Olinger also coaches the team.
"We only get them started, and they take over," Wille said.
Some of the competitors will head to the state competition later this month.
"We're going to win," Wille said. "We set high goals because they've achieved all of them so far."
Team members credit their success to competitiveness and knowledge that they are one of the best teams in the state.
"You have to be really responsible and self-driven," Koroulis said. "It's a lot of work to prepare for a competition, and I think it's obvious who is prepared and who isn't. Rod and Rod are great, and I appreciate having such great coaches."
In addition to Koroulis, team members include Ian Fralick, Cole Carnahan, Mackenzie Carnahan, Austin Carnahan, Michael Rossi, Kimberly Rossi, Ceanna Rossi, Jessica Rossi, Jasper Gantick, Shyann Williams, Morgan Hatfield, Joey Anderson, Abbey Horn and Belle Horn.