When Losing Is Not An Option

Boy on horse at TTU Equestrian Center Conner Cowdrey, a first-year animal science major with a concentration in business, from Brock, Texas, works on his roping skills at the Texas Tech Equestrian Center.

The year 2021 was a historic year for Texas Tech University’s competitive judging teams. Five of the 10 teams housed in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences within the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources brought home a national championship. The horse, wool, and meat judging teams along with the ranch horse and meat science academic quiz bowl teams have all left their mark in the history books.

Texas Tech’s Horse Judging Team was comprised of five women who obtained the national championship title from the American Quarter Horse Association’s Collegiate Horse Judging World Show in the senior college division in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Jaci Brown, a senior animal science major with a concentration in business, has been competing in horse judging competitions since she was in fourth grade and said winning a world title has always been a goal.

“It was kind of the end goal to win that championship,” Brown said. “Tech has had its sights set on another national title since 2006. So, to be the team that finally broke the ice was fun.”

 Brown said the team spent a lot of time practicing and traveling together and were able to become very close.

 “We had a great team dynamic, and we all wanted to see each other succeed,” Brown said.

The Texas Tech Meat Judging Team upheld its legacy by bringing home the third-straight national championship, making this Texas Tech’s sixteenth national championship for meat judging. Additionally, this was the third time in history a meat judging team has won a national championship for three consecutive years; it was done twice previously by Texas Tech. 

Cassie Bendele, a senior animal major with a concentration in meat science from Hondo, Texas, said she has loved that collegiate meat judging has given her an outlet to be competitive.

“Winning the 2021 national championship was a completely indescribable feeling,” Bendele said. “I have never worked so hard for anything, so finally winning the national title, after nine years of meat judging was definitely a dream come true.” 

In addition to being a member of the 2021 team, Bendele is an assistant coach for the 2022 team.  

“Ultimately, my love for judging, my competitiveness, and my passion for being a member of a team is what drove me to continue on and coach,” Bendele said. 

The feeling was just, insurmountable, I was just awestruck that I’m actually a national champion for Texas Tech University.

Kade Miller

The Meat Science Academic Quiz Bowl Team won Tech’s tenth national championship at the 74th Reciprocal Meat Conference in Reno, Nevada. The Meat Science Quiz Bowl is a reoccurring contest that students can compete in throughout all years in college. 

Shae Lynn Sarchet is a senior animal science major with a concentration in meat science from Idalou, Texas, and competed on the quiz bowl team. She said quiz bowl is a Jeopardy-style contest with 40 questions in each round. The judges ask questions about various meat science topics like muscle biology, microbiology, food safety, historical dates, legislation, trade imports and exports, and current events. 

“I attribute a lot of our success due to our team dynamic of being so close and family-like,” Sarchet said.  “The students on our team have a lot of depth and vast understanding of different processes, from field to harvest all the way through the entire production process. I believe this knowledge has really prepared these students to go out and be better agriculturists in the future.”

She originally met her husband, Chandler Sarchet through the quiz bowl team. Chandler Sarchet is pursuing a Master of Science in Animal Science. They are now two of the three co-coaches for the 2022 team. 

The Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team acquired the program’s sixth national championship at the Hughes Trailers Collegiate Ranch and Stock Horse Championship held on the Texas Tech campus.

Matt Major, a senior agricultural economics major from Magdalena, New Mexico, said winning the championship was a notable achievement.

“It was it was a great accomplishment to have success for the team,” Major said. “Coming in as a freshman and not knowing what a lead change was or not having ever shown a horse and then to be able to go through the program and improve so much that I could be a valuable asset to the team, really made me feel good inside.” 

Boy examining a wool fiber in a classroom.
Kade Miller, a member of the 2021 National Champion Wool Judging Team, examines a wool fiber, to determine fineness.

Texas Tech’s Wool Judging Team finished out its competitive season by earning the program’s fourth national championship at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Intercollegiate Wool Contest. Kade Miller is a junior animal science major with a concentration in pre-nursing and was a member of the winning team. 

“The feeling was just insurmountable,” Miller said. “I was just awestruck that I’m actually a national champion for Texas Tech University.” 

Miller now serves as an assistant coach for the 2022 wool judging team. 

“Being able to step into that leadership position, and hopefully, leave an impact on the students like my coaches did, is something that I really look forward to,” Miller said. “It is what drives me to try to do my best as a coach.”