Steamboat Springs Catharine Koroulis called it luck.
But one look at the slew of ribbons, medals, plaques and belt buckles she won in the livestock judging portion of the statewide 4-H contest in Fort Collins gives a better reason for her success.
Koroulis, 15, is simply good - really good - at what she does.
"It was a blessing we won," Koroulis said about the June 20 competition. "It was luck, but I was really excited. All my friends and family ran out and gave me a huge hug."
Koroulis judged sheep, cattle and swine in several specific categories. Judging criteria included how the animal is finished, or muscled, and the animal's structural integrity, balance and movement.
Each class has a pen of four animals, and contestants were asked to rank the animals from best to worst. For certain classes, competitors had to give reasons why and how they ranked the animal.
"They have to be good at both evaluating the animal and having a discussion on why they placed them the way they did," said Rod Wille, one of two Routt County livestock judging coaches.
Koroulis had competed in eight events prior to the state competition and said she hadn't performed as well as she hoped.
She started putting it together right before the state meet, when she won the preceding event. Still, she said she went into the state competition a little unsure if she could win.
Wille, however, knew Koroulis could be successful given her ability to reason.
"The girl just has a silver spoon in her mouth - she could talk an Eskimo into eating ice cream," Wille said. "She's just that good."
Koroulis, who hopes to become an architect, said the key to livestock judging is thinking logically when looking at the animals.
"It's about reasoning, being confident and being articulate," she said.
With the judging season done, Koroulis will focus on showing lambs and roping. Still with three more years to judge livestock, Koroulis said she plans to be back at the state competition again doing something that will help her in the future.
"It helps you use your brain," she said. "It helps you think."
- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail email@example.com