Steamboat Springs Routt County 4-H livestock judges made a name for themselves at the state competition last week.
The team took third place in Fort Collins, behind competitors from Elbert and Weld counties. Catharine Koroulis of Clark won second place overall, and Morgan Hatfield of McCoy took eighth.
The overall placement qualifies the team to compete at the National Western Stock Show in January in Denver.
"That's the first time a team from Routt County has qualified for a national contest in livestock judging, so they were pretty happy," coach Rod Wille said of his team. Ian Fralick and Anna Brown completed the four-person group.
Livestock judges look at classes of beef, sheep and swine. Four animals make up each class. Judges must rank them from highest to lowest quality and then explain some of their rankings to a panel.
The competition was tight, Wille said. The Routt County group was only 27 points behind Elbert and 11 behind Weld. Ten teams participated.
"Colorado teams are really competitive," Wille said. "The state of Colorado just has an outstanding program, so they can compete on a national level pretty easily."
Koroulis was glad she ranked but disappointed she didn't win. She took first place at the contest last year.
"If you don't win, then you lose," she said.
But Koroulis, who will be a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, said she thinks her team has a bright future.
"This is a young team," she said. "This is a good place to start, but I think we can go a lot of places in the next few years."
Hatfield said she was happy to help her team with her eighth-place performance. She had one of her best judging days.
"Judging has really brought me out of my shell," said Hatfield, who will be a junior next year at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum. "Being out in the top 10 individuals there just really shows that what I've worked for is starting to pay off."
The girls and Wille said they were proud of their team.
"We have a really united team, from our coaches to everybody on the senior team and even our juniors," Koroulis said. "We really help each other out. I think that's something that's unique about Routt County. : I think that's what makes us a strong team."
Other 4-H news
Routt County 4-H is in the middle of a teen exchange program. Routt County members visited Santa Clara County in California last summer, and now the California kids are in Routt County for the week.
Activities include a visit to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a llama trip and a lunch at Tread of Pioneers Museum. The group also visited the Yeager ranch near Steamboat Springs on Tuesday.
Also this week, Routt County 4-H is participating in a statewide truck raffle. Ford donated an F-150 pickup that can run on gasoline or ethanol, and proceeds will go to state and local 4-H.
The truck is at Steamboat Motors, county 4-H agent Jay Whaley said. Raffle tickets are $20. Of that amount, $5 will stay in Routt County, and the rest will go to the Colorado 4-H Foundation, he said.
"We're just trying to tour it around the best we can this weekend," Whaley said. It will be at events including the Fourth of July parades in Steamboat and Yampa.
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