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George West FFA places first in livestock judging for first time
by Matt Naber
Jun 03, 2013 | 888 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the first time in the history of George West High School FFA, the livestock judging team placed first in the state on May 4 at Texas A&M. Senior Quest Newberry was named the first state officer from GWHS since Gene Riser in the 1960s and Shelby James was elected as the Area 10 secretary.

Newberry and James make up half of the livestock judging team along with seniors Bruce Williams and Kate Jimerson.

Newberry placed third overall at state, followed by Jimerson in 18th, James in 46th, and Williams placed 220th.

“I called my parents and they just scream, not with anger but with excitement,” James said.

But this wasn’t the team’s first victory this year. They won districts in Jourdanton on April 5, then went on to win area in Robbstown on April 11.

In the state competition, George West scored 15 points higher than the second place team to bring home the gold

“There were five points between the teams, so 15 is a pretty big margin,” Jimerson said. “We went in knowing what we had to do to win.”

“Our experience helped us because sometimes you are in shock when you get into such a large event setting like that,” Newberry added. “We weren’t nervous or anything like that.”

Last year, the team placed 18th at state and the year before that they were seventh. The girls have been on the team for two years and the boys have since they became eligible in the eighth grade.

“Once you get to that level at state, the top 10 to 15 teams are pretty good and you have to have a good day that day,” GWHS Ag teacher Matt Posey said. “It just all came together that day. They have had the ability in the past to win and that day was our day.”

The team credits part of their success to having years of experience judging together. Jimerson, Williams, and Newberry have been judging together since seventh grade.

“We are consistent with each other and learned what each other is going to do during the contest and that helps,” Jimerson said.

Another difference the team had this year was that this was Posey’s first year as their Ag teacher. Jimerson’s dad, Jay Jimerson, was their Ag teacher up until his retirement last year after 22 years of teaching. He remained active in preparing the team for competitions this year.

Jimerson said it was an emotional experience for her and her dad since the closest his students came to winning state was in Marion with a second place finish.

“Jay Jimerson helped quite a bit throughout they year,” Posey said. “He trained them up and when he left he turned it over to me. He turned a good team over to me, and we definitely could not have done it without his help.”

Preparing for competitions meant traveling to farms in the area and using a computer program to judge from school since the students don’t have immediate access to livestock on campus.

“Knowing that this could be my last judging contest ever in my life was the hardest part,” Williams said.

Now that George West has won state, the team will go on to nationals in Kentucky this October even though three of the four members will be in college. Newberry will work with judging teams at Blinn College while on their judging team, Jimerson will work with the team at Texas A&M, and Williams at San Angelo. James will continue to practice during her senior year at GWHS.

“I guess it’s a win-win,” James said.

Part of their preparation for nationals includes giving oral reasons for their placements when judging. Because of Texas’ size, it is one of the few states to not include oral reasons in competitions since they take more time.

As for Newberry and James, Newberry will give a speech in front of 10,000 FFA members at the state convention in July in hopes of being elected president or vice president. If elected he will spend the next year giving presentations at high schools across the state.

James will attend state leadership camps this summer and perform duties at the state convention. James will be in the running for state office her senior year.

“When I called my dad he was extremely happy, and mad he couldn’t be with us,” Newberry said. “When I got in the car with him, he told me how proud he was, and I’ll never forget it.”
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