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SDSU Livestock Judging Team Named Reserve National Champions

The SDSU Livestock Judging Team earned reserve overall at the national contest.
The SDSU Livestock Judging Team was named the reserve national champion team at the National Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest. Pictured, from left, are: (back row) Brady Jensen, coach, Russell Pluimer, Kodie Doetzel, Clay Sundberg, Tommy Norman, assistant coach, and Joe Cassady, who leads the Department of Animal Science; (front) Murray Perkins, Bronson Smith, Ellie Sennett, Stratton Wotowey and Peyton Sundsbak.

The South Dakota State University Livestock Judging Team was named the reserve national champion team at the National Collegiate Livestock Judging Contest held at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, Nov. 15. This is the highest SDSU has placed at the national contest since 1996.

“Being crowned the reserve national champions caps off a great season for one of the most talented teams I have had the pleasure to coach,” said Brady Jensen, SDSU Livestock Judging Team coach. “Not only will they go down in the history books at SDSU as one of the great livestock judging teams, but I think in 20-30 years, we will all look back and realize how special this team was after they have accomplished all their life goals.”

In addition to being named reserve national champions, the team placed third in cattle, fourth in swine and fifth in sheep, performance cattle and reasons.

The 2021 team members include (name, majors, hometown): Bronson Smith, animal science, Powell, Wyoming; Clay Sundberg, animal science, Arlington, Illinois; Ellie Sennett, animal science and agricultural science, Waynetown, Indiana; Kodie Doetzel, agricultural science, Lipton, Saskatchewan; Murray Perkins, animal science, Buchanan, Tennessee; Stratton Wotowey, animal science, Fort Collins, Colorado; Peyton Sundsbak, animal science, Des Lacs, North Dakota; and Russell Pluimer, animal science, Montpelier, Indiana. The team is coached by Jensen and assisted by Tommy Norman, master's in animal science, Luverne, Minnesota. 

Notable individual results from the contest include:

  • Wotowey: sixth overall, second in cattle and eighth in swine
  • Smith: sixth in swine
  • Sundsbak: eighth in cattle

“On behalf of the Department of Animal Science, I want to congratulate the members of the SDSU Livestock Judging Team on completing the season as reserve national champions,” said Joe Cassady, head of the Department of Animal Science. “Members of the team, under the guidance of coach Brady Jensen, worked very hard to earn this recognition. I am especially proud of the way our team represented the Department of Animal Science and South Dakota State University.” 

The team competed in 12 different contests throughout the year, placing in the top five at nearly every contest. Additionally, two team members won high individual honors at a contest—Smith winning the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Sennett taking home the gold at the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic. Both Sennett and Smith were the first individuals in SDSU history to win either of those contests.

“To be excellent at livestock judging, you have to be a quick decision maker, incredible public speaker, excellent time manager and in total control of your emotions in high pressure situations,” said Jensen. “What set the 2021 team among the elite was their undeniable ability to be true stockmen and stockwomen.”

The North American International Livestock Exposition concluded the 2021 team’s judging season. The 2022 team will kick off its season in January at Cattlemen’s Congress in Oklahoma City.