Meat judging squad takes first at Western
By RACHAEL GRAY
For one Garden City Community College competitive team, it's all about meat, confidence and camaraderie.
The college's meats judging team has had a successful season so far in bringing some inexperienced meat judgers on par with the more seasoned team members.
"We started with three to four people that didn't have any clue what meat judging was, and they've come to be very competitive with the few kids on the team that have done this six, seven, eight years through junior high, high school and FFA," coach Austin Voyles said.
Voyles said the team was successful at the Western Contest, held in Denver.
"We were top two in every division and ended up winning by 40 points, which is a pretty comfortable margin. And then at the Southwestern Contest held in Fort Worth, we were third," he said.
This is the second team Voyles has coached. He judged meats in 2007 at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and then coached the 2011 team at West Texas A&M University in Canyon.
"Meat judging is a competitive event where students evaluate beef, pork and lamb on quality and cutability differences and place them as such. In the junior college division, they answer questions over some of the classes in order to show their knowledge of what we're looking for in the industry," he said.
As a coach, Voyles said the most difficult part is on contest day, choosing which four scores out of the nine individuals will count toward the team score.
Those students go into the contest at the same time, but their scores are kept separately from everyone else and go toward the team awards.
The other five students who don't make the team still compete in the alternates division. Their scores are kept on an individual basis.
"At the Western, we had the individual in the team competition and high in the alternate," Voyles said.
Allen Caro, 18, a freshman from Satanta, scored the highest in the team division. He originally got involved in meats judging in high school when his FFA advisor asked if he'd like to try it.
"I like it because we get to compete and test our knowledge. It's actually pretty thrilling," he said.
Sammie Leads, 19, from Council Grove, came and toured GCCC and the coach offered her a scholarship to try meat judging.
She didn't know much about it, but scored the high score in the alternate division at the Western Contest.
"I actually really like it. It's a team experience. Being five hours away from family, this is like my family here. Everyone is really open and helpful," she said.
The hardest part about meat judging is maintaining confidence.
"The biggest downfall is second guessing yourself. You've got to b- confident," she said.
The food processing lab is under construction at GCCC with completion hoped for in March. Then the team will have a new home and new resources between competitions.
The meats team is also coached by Clint Alexander.