INMAN — A sea of blue and gold jackets swarmed Indianapolis, Indiana last week with teams from 45 states, but this 90th National FFA Convention and Expo is one the Inman High School FFA Team will never forget.

The high school has seen the iconic blue and gold jackets walking up and down its hallways for quite some time now, but this year, the team brought home more than just the jacket.

The Inman FFA horse team placed fifth in the nation and Ally Leslie was named the best individual FFA horse judger in the nation out of 180 competitors in that category. Teams from all over the nation attended the convention representing 45 states and each team consisted of four members.

"She has attended camps and went to every contest she possibly could to continually get better. She constantly pushes herself to be the best and it was great to see all of her hard work finally pay off," said Daniel Knapp, vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Inman High School.

Leslie is the first student to receive this award at the high school.

"We are such a small town and for a small-town kid to be able to go out and win a contest at a national level, it shows others that anything is possible if your work hard enough to attain it," Knapp said. "She is inspiring a group of students below her to achieve at the same level, and our community rallied around this team's success. It was a once-in-a-lifetime homecoming for this group of students."

At the awards ceremony, Knapp said Leslie handled her award with true honor.

"It was really cool to see such a young person with with the amount of grade she did, not begin showy and making sure to congratulate and celebrate others in their success as well," he said.

The team of four has competed together in FFA competitions since the eighth grade and are now closing in on their final year.

"No matter how they did, I was going to be proud because they started together, they finished together and they gave it their all," he said. "The fact they got fifth in the nation was really just the cherry on top for me, I could not have asked for a better group of young individuals to work through all of this."

Knapp has been pleased with his group since the beginning. When the students first started, he said they were eager and ready to learn the ways of the organization.

"Their freshman year, they won the Green Hand Division of Horse at district contest and that lit a fire in them that thankful never went out," he said. "As freshmen, they went and placed 11th at the State Contest and it was at that point that I really knew I was working with something special."

For more information, contact the Inman High School at 620-585-6441 or visit their website at http://usd448.com.

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.