MORGANTOWN , W.Va.The West Virginia University Livestock Judging Team brought home the bacon from the 2009 All East Livestock Contest held recently at Ohio State University in Columbus.


The team earned first place in beef cattle selection, third place in sheep judging, and fifth in overall judging.


Consisting of two sectionslivestock selection and livestock judgingstudents use critical thinking and decision-making skills to rank classes of beef cattle, swine and sheep based on subjective and objective information. During the selection portion of the contest, students are required to answer questions regarding the animals they are selecting. During the judging portion, they present oral explanations in defense of their rankings.


Four WVU team members placed in the top 20 in various events: Becky Berkebile, an animal and nutritional sciences major from Accident, Md., placed seventh in overall swine and 18th in overall judging; John Boyd, an animal and nutritional sciences major from Gerrardstown, W.Va., placed eighth in overall beef cattle selection; Katrina Frey, a pre-pharmacy major from Quarryville, Pa., placed ninth in overall sheep judging; Owen Weikert, an animal and nutritional sciences major from Gettysburg, Pa., placed first in overall beef cattle selection, fourth in overall sheep judging, eighth in overall judging, and ninth in overall reasons.


Other team members include Derek Garret, an animal and nutritional sciences major from Horner, W.Va.; Amanda Leister, an agricultural and extension education major from Westminster, Md.; Lisa Raab, an animal and nutritional sciences major from Valley Grove, W.Va.; Matt Riemenschneider, an animal and nutritional sciences major from North Huntington, Pa.; Ben Weikert, an animal and nutritional sciences major from Gettysburg, Pa.; and Ethan Wright, an agribusiness management and rural development major from Blacksville, W.Va.


In addition to WVU , teams at this years All East Livestock Contest included Michigan State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, Ohio State University, University of Illinois, and Virginia Tech.


The team is coached by John Warren, professor of animal and nutritional sciences in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences. He was assisted by Burke Holvey, a graduate student in agriculture from Sand Fork, W.Va., and Joshua Hastings, of Townsend, Del., who earned his undergraduate degree in agribusiness management and rural development this spring.

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If you look at the number of individuals in the top ten, our kids were competitive with livestock judging teams from major agriculture colleges in the east and Midwest,Warren said.Im very pleased with the performance at this stage, especially since the spring semester is preparation for the fall when judging contests begin in earnest.


Fall competitions include the Eastern National Livestock Exposition in Timonium, Md., the Keystone International Livestock Exposition in Harrisburg, Pa., and the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky.


Students are only allowed to compete one year. After completing the exposition in Louisville, they are then considered livestock judging professionals.