by STEVEN GEHEGAN//Sports Editor
The South Plains Livestock Judging Team made history while doing something that has not been done in more than two decades.
The Livestock Judging Team brought home a national championship from the Houston Collegiate Judging Contest that took place on March 20 participating. Three students also placed in the top 10.
It is the first national title for the Livestock Judging Team since 1991, under the leadership of head coach Conner Newsom.
“It’s pretty exciting to say the least,” Newsom said. “It took a lot of hard work for this team to win a national championship. It took a lot of work, a lot of time and dedication into it. It also took a lot of long nights and early mornings.”
Newsom joined SPC in 2013 and has led the Livestock Judging Team in more than 20 events from December to March of this year, finishing in the top in each event.
Newsom, 25, became the youngest head coach to win a national championship. He said it was “kind of surreal and shocking” when he found out that he had made that history.
“It took a little bit for it to soak in that this actually happened,” Newsom added.
Along with the hard work, Newsom said, “a good work ethic with a lot of hours and dedication, it all came together.”
“A little luck met preparation,” he said of the team’s success.
The members of the sophomore team that won the national championship include: Tyler Kelly of Bullard; Sterling Scott of Lubbock; Dylan Bostick of Bangs; Trace McBride of Abernathy; Kelton Matthews of Abilene; Logan Bauer of Llano; and Kenzee Criswell of Dora, New Mexico.
In addition to the overall championship, the Livestock Judging Team placed first in both goat and sheep, tied for first in swine, finished second overall in team placing, third overall in team results and sixth overall in team cattle.
Individually, Kelly placed sixth in the individual, and seventh in individual swine. Scott placed seventh in the individual, and first in individual goat and sheep. Bostick placed ninth in individual, second in the sheep and goat, fifth in individual cattle and eighth in individual reasons. McBride placed fourth in individual swine, and earned All-American honors for having a 4.0 grade point average. Criswell placed second in alternate contest.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has become to be one of the largest livestock show and rodeos in the world, attracting 2.4 million people to this event.
The future seems bright, according to Newsom, who added,“Expectations are really high. I have a really good team to follow these guys.”
Next year, Newsom will have a team of 13 members who are currently freshmen, who have impressed Newsom all season long. These competitions are important to help open doors for students to gain full scholarships to four-year universities.
[Photo courtesy of Connor Newsom]