Steamboat Springs Catharine Koroulis has won multiple individual state championships at the state livestock judging competition. But none of those feats compared to what the Routt County 4-H Livestock Judging Team accomplished June 23 in Fort Collins.
There, Koroulis, along with teammates Morgan Hatfield, Abbey Horn and Cole and Mackenzie Carnahan, won the team judging state championship for the first time in Routt County history.
“This meant everything, and this is why we’ve been judging for five years,” Koroulis said. “For the last five or six years, we’ve done it for the one day where we were state champions.”
The team finished fourth last year and third the year before. This year’s win qualifies the team for the national competition in November in Louisville, Ky.
In the competition, the team judged 12 classes of animals from best to worst before defending its decisions to a panel of judges. The animals primarily are judged on muscle, structure and volume.
The top three scores from each team were used. Koroulis finished third overall, Hatfield was 13th and Mackenzie Carnahan was 19th.
“I think the only difference this year was we really came together as a team,” Hatfield said. “We were very strong, very united. We brought it together and left it up to God.”
The team started meeting once a week in April and May in preparation for the contest. They’d go to competitions on Saturdays and never won through the regular season, often finishing third or lower.
But the team worked hard leading up to the week of the state competition. Routt County beat Elbert County — which had been winning most of the year’s competitions — by a mere 12 points.
“It was incredible,” coach Rod Wille said. “I’ve been the coach for 13 years. I was so happy for the kids. It’s all about them. But not only have I been coaching, but I was a member of the team. This has been over 24 years we’ve been waiting for this. It felt really good. Having those kids that are that talented, I’ve never seen that before.”
The team will start practicing for the national tournament at the end of August.
They’ll do mock contests and should have an edge with Koroulis and Hatfield heading off to college to sharpen their judging skills.
Although the team will again be an underdog in Louisville, the goal remains the same.
A win in Louisville would send the team to Scotland in summer 2011 for the international competition.
“We’re going to win Louisville,” Koroulis said. “I don’t want to sound conceited, but we’ll be the underdogs there. We’ll have the same mindset there and faith in God that we can win it.”