Steamboat Springs Although the win didn't help Morgan Hatfield, Ian Fralick and Catharine Koroulis achieve their ultimate goal, it certainly set them up for it.
The three local youths finished first as a team in the livestock judging event at the Northern International Livestock Exposition in Montana on Oct. 16. But because they're from Colorado, the win didn't give them an automatic berth in the national competition.
Nonetheless, the trio hopes a win at the Colorado state competition in June will earn them a trip to Louisville, Ky., next year.
"We were fourth last year at state," coach Rod Wille said. "That's our ultimate goal is to go to Louisville."
Making the team's Montana first-place finish all the more impressive was that most of the other teams had four members, with the lowest score on each team dropped.
"I'm sure proud of those kids," Wille said. "They went up and won. It's a heck of a deal to go win someone else's state contest. They're smart kids, and I think they're some of the best kids in the (Yampa) Valley."
The three 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.
In addition to the team's first-place finish, Hatfield finished first overall among individuals, and Koroulis finished fourth.
Although the three will now take a break from judging, they'll get started in the spring. With the Colorado state competition scheduled for June - and a berth to nationals on the line - Wille said the team will go to eight contests in April and May before the state competition.
"There's five or so teams in Colorado that are really tough," Koroulis said. "It's really about who has the best day. A lot of it depends on luck."
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