Lee Rincker, a University of Illinois junior in agricultural education, took home the coveted title of high individual in the 2011 National Western Stock Show (NWSS) Senior Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest.
Individually, Rincker finished first in cattle, first in cattle reasons, first in swine, second in oral reasons and first overall.
"This will definitely go down as one of the most memorable moments in my life," Rincker said. "As a 'cattle kid,' just knowing the National Western Stock Show's history makes me even more humbled and honored. Coming home with a win for our team makes all those cold winter workouts worth it."
Rincker led the U of I livestock judging team to win High Team Overall in beef and swine. The team finished third in oral reasons and fourth overall out of 29 teams from across the country. Rincker's teammate, Blake Lehman, finished eighth in swine. The team also finished seventh overall in the NWSS Carload Contest.
Preparation for these contests is intense and requires a great sacrifice of time and energy, said Dan Shike, head coach of the University of Illinois livestock judging team.
"The team worked really hard the first two weeks of January and made good progress," Shike said. "I was anxious to see how they would do, but as a coach, it's hard to predict how their first contest of the year will go. It was rewarding to see the team do well in cattle and swine, but we were disappointed by our mistakes in sheep. However, this is just the first of many contests we'll compete in this spring and fall. Like other teams, our goal is to keep improving and be as competitive as possible at our national contest in November."
Team members include Rincker of Shelbyville, Craig Benoit of Chebanse, Andy Frerichs of Clifton, Rachele Jack of Biggsville, Jill Johnson of Cambridge, Blake Lehman of Eureka, Chance Meteer of Blue Mound, Emily Moore of Jerseyville, Danielle Robinson of Goodfield, and Jeremiah Shaner of Bradford. The team is coached by Dan Shike, U of I assistant professor of animal sciences, and Chris Cassady, U of I graduate student in animal sciences.
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