The abbreviated judging season concluded at the High Plains Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in Hereford, which served as the 2020 national championship meet.

Normally, Texas Tech University’s Meat Judging Team in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences has to travel three states away to compete for—and claim—a national championship.

This year, in the age of COVID-19, Texas Tech claimed its second straight and 15th overall national crown in its home state by winning the High Plains Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest hosted by Caviness Beef Packers.

The national championships are typically held every year in mid-November in Dakota City, Nebraska. But since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, many of the American Meat Science Association judging events held throughout the fall were canceled as colleges and universities experienced travel restrictions.

This fall, only three contests were held, the South Plains Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest hosted by Texas Tech, the American Royal Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in Omaha, Nebraska, and the High Plains contest. Only three teams competed at the South Plains meet—Texas Tech, Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University—while those three were joined by Texas A&M University and South Dakota State University for the last two events.

Prior to the start of the competition, the AMSA held a vote among the participating coaches, who agreed to count this competition as the 2020 national championship.

“I am so proud of the team and coaches who humbled themselves in the pursuit of excellence,” said Mark Miller, coach of the Meat Judging Team and the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Distinguished Chair in Meat Sciences. “They became a close family and unselfishly loved one another which gave them the faith and confidence to win the National Championship. God gave this team the victory. They dedicated themselves and worked so hard to achieve this.”

Along with Miller, coaches for this year’s team are graduate students Ben Mills from Shallowater and Kyle Mahagan from Plainview.

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