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WLAC qualifying contest held

Ask veteran livestock auctioneer Mitch Barthel what it would mean to him to win Livestock Marketing Association's 2012 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, and you get a two-part answer.

On a personal level, "I'd be elated and very happy," said Barthel, 36, of New York Mills, Minn.

On a professional level, Barthel knows that the world champion spends a good part of his championship year on the road for LMA, appearing at LMA member markets and industry events, meeting scores of people--and doing interviews on countless topics.

And that means "I'd want to make sure I represented the livestock and marketing industries the best way I can." To start preparing for a possible year as world champion, Barthel said he's "reading up on major industry issues."

Barthel guaranteed himself a spot in next summer's WLAC when he won in Dickinson, N.D., on Oct. 20, the second qualifying contest for the June 16 World Championship.

The qualifying contest was hosted by Stockmen's Livestock Exchange, Inc. Barthel was named champion from a field of 14 contestants.

The reserve champion--second place--was Tye Casey, Plymouth, Ind., and third place, or runner-up champion, was Andrew McDowell, Vandalia, Ill.

The three winners here move on to the 2012 WLAC, along with the next five highest-scoring contestants. They are, in alphabetical order: Philip Gilstrap, Pendleton, S.C.; Brennin Jack, Regina, Sask.; Travis Rogers, Westlock, Alberta; Duane Rus, Rock Valley, Iowa; and Shane Wolff, Golden Valley, N.D.

The 2012 WLAC will be the 49th annual, and Barthel's third time in the contest. An auctioneer for 20 years, he said the contest "is fun, and I like to see how I compare with the other guys. This year I looked around, and saw some pretty stout competition."

Barthel was sponsored by Perham Stockyards, Inc., Perham, Minn.

Next summer will mark the fifth time in the WLAC for Casey, 31, the reserve champion here. His highest finish to date was last year, when he was one of the 10 finalists.

Reflecting the determination to win the World Championship shown by many contestants, Casey said he plans to keep entering "as long as I can." He was sponsored by Topeka Livestock Auction, Topeka, Ind., and Shipshewana Livestock Auction, Shipshewana, Ind.

Runner-up Champion McDowell, 29, has been an auctioneer for 12 years. Next summer will mark his 10th time in the WLAC.

Asked what keeps him coming back, he said, "Everybody is in it to win it, but to be honest, it's a lot of fun. There's a lot of guys I've met at the WLAC that I've become friends with, and talk to over the phone--but I may only see them once a year at the contest."

McDowell was sponsored by Greenville Livestock Auction, Greenville, Ill.

Stockmen's Livestock presented cash awards to the top three winners here, and jackets to the top eight qualifiers.

LMA presents a custom-made belt buckle to the winner in each of the four qualifying contests. The reserve and runner-up champions in each qualifying contest also receive custom belt buckles.

The remaining qualifying contests are Jan. 17, 2012, Producers Livestock Marketing Association, Greeley, Colo.; and March 8, 2012, Groesbeck Auction and Livestock Co., Inc., Groesbeck, Texas.

The eight highest scorers in each qualifying contest, along with the reigning International Livestock Auctioneer Champion--Rod Burnett, Armstrong, British Columbia--make up the field of 33 for the 2012 WLAC.

It will be held June 16, 2012, at Turlock Livestock Auction Yard, Inc., Turlock, Calif.

At the WLAC, three titlists will be selected, and the winners receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.

LMA conducts the WLAC and the qualifying contests to put the focus on competitive livestock marketing, and the continuing vital role of the auctioneer in that process.

The qualifying contests, and the WLAC, are broadcast live at www.LMAAuctions.com.

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