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OHS Earns Livestock Judging State Title
FFA Champs
California State FFA Livestock Judging Champions 2018 was the title brought home earlier this month by Oakdale High School juniors and FFA members, from left: Tavin Barry, Grace Verdegaal, Blake Morgan and Kimber Tavares. - photo by Photo Contributed

Another trophy will now grace the case of the Oakdale High School Hall as Oakdale FFA students were recently named the State Champion Livestock Judging team. In addition to this esteemed honor, the team will travel to Indianapolis, Indiana in October to represent California at the National level.

“Everybody in the state competes in one contest,” Department Head and FFA Leader, Isaac Robles said of the competition, noting his pride in the accomplishment of a team comprised of all Junior Class members.

“Honestly it’s a dream come true almost,” team member Blake Morgan shared.

His family legacy in FFA includes both his sister and mother earning this achievement during their high school careers.

“It’s been on my Bucket List,” Morgan admitted.

As part of the Livestock Judging competition, teams individually judge several classes of goats, sheep, cattle and hogs. In addition to the judging they are required to give a two minute memorized speech to a judge, covering the reasons for their judging. They have 20 minutes to prepare each of their four speeches, which is all done in the same day.

“The idea that they have to give oral reasons in a two minute presentation to a judge on why they placed the way they did four different times, that’s impressive,” Robles said of the champions and the difficulty of livestock judging versus single animal.

The team shared prior to the championship they had a fair year in terms of competitions, picking up a handful of second places, a third and maybe a fourth – none seeming to remember exactly what came before the championship.

“We sort of adopted a saying which was, there’s only one that matters,” Robles said. “At the end of the day it’s how you do at state finals and they had a really good day.”

A total of 16 students participate on the OHS FFA Livestock Judging team. Throughout the year, Robles would rotate the team by competition depending on performance. During the competitions they each judge and speak separate of one another, their scores are then combined as a team.

The team of four noted a number of things which they’ve gained the most from as members of the team, most notably public speaking.

“There’s so many things with FFA,” Morgan said of the skill acquired, aside from the obvious. “We realize everyday how it helps us out in other areas of our life.”

Looking forward, the foursome plans to appreciate the time off allotted by Robles for the month of May and then, back to preparing.

“We’re going to be spending a lot of time together,” Robles said, sharing the rigor of the nationals as a whole other level than that of state.

It’s a process he’s familiar with, as he traveled there in 2016 when OHS last won this title.

“I think the biggest thing is to let them have fun,” he said, now with 20 years of coaching experience. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that, I figured out it’s got to be fun along the way.”