December 5, 2018
Members of the University of Wyoming meat judging team are, from left, Haley Cole, Zach Davis, Ericka Eckhardt, Cedar Anderson, Katie Hazlewood, Coach Sierra Jepsen and Kelcey Christensen, manager of the UW Meat Laboratory. (UW Photo)
The University of Wyoming's meat judging team corralled its first top 10 finish of its first season by placing seventh at the 2018 American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Neb.
Nineteen teams and 105 students competed Nov. 11.
'The International is the Super Bowl of meat judging,' Coach Sierra Jepsen says. 'It was their best performance of the year. We have not had a team since 2015, and for them to come back and be in the top 10 is amazing.'
The UW team competed at four contests in the spring and five in the fall. The international was the last for this team.
'They have been finishing right at 11th in the fall contests,' Jepsen says. 'To finally crack that at the international, I'm really excited for them for all their hard work. It's exciting for them to end on a high note.'
Four of the five members are on the scoring team at competitions with one alternate. Haley Cole, of Cheyenne, had the top score for the team at the international, finishing 13th overall, second in beef and total placings and third in total beef.
Katie Hazlewood, of Riverton, placed 13th in beef judging. Cedar Anderson, of Manila, Utah, finished 19th overall and eighth in beef grading. Zach Davis, of Sebastopol, Calif., finished 15th in specifications and 10th in placings.
Jepsen says Davis scored a perfect 100 on his specifications. Seventeen students earned perfect scores, and ties were broken based on a student's reasons scores. Only 17 out of the 72 students eligible to be on a scoring team received perfect scores.
Any UW team member scoring a 100 joins the animal science department's 100 Club and his or her name is included with others on a special plaque.
Jepsen says Erika Eckhardt, of Sterling, Neb., was selected for the Hamilton Spirit Award. Each university at the competition selects one team member for the award named in honor of Rachel Strode Hamilton. She was program director of intercollegiate meats judging for the American Meat Science Association from July 2000 until her death in 2005.
'Our team members voted on the award and picked one of their teammates they believe worked hardest and pushed everyone to do their best,' Jepsen says.
Students can only compete one season on the team. An all-new member meats judging team will next compete at the Denver National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in January.