BOTKINS — Officials from any school district would be proud to have four students among the top 10 in just about any conceivable competition.
Now imagine doing that at either a state or a national competition.
Four Botkins High School students pulled of that feat Sept. 17. Competing at The Big E, a national fair held in West Springfield, Mass., seniors Seth Aufderhaar, Jordan Marx and Jordan Fledderjohann along with junior Logan Russell, all placed in the top 10 in the national livestock judging competition.
Fledderjohan placed first individually nationally, while Russell finished third, Marx came in eighth, and Aufderhaar came in ninth. The group finished second as a team.
“These kids spent hours upon hours getting ready for this competition,” vocational agricultural teacher and team adviser Chad Berning said. “I thought they had a chance to do very well at the competition. Obviously, we are pleased with the outcome.”
The team earned the right to participate in the competition after placing second in the state of Ohio as a team in the spring. The team competed against various schools in general livestock judging.
Fledderjohann said he believes growing up together helped them compete as a team.
“We all kind of grew up together showing,” Fledderjohann said. “Putting all four of us together helped. We were able to put our ideas and different points of view together.”
All four agreed the oral reasoning was the most difficult part of the competition.
“The judging is pretty easy,” the son of Jody and Melvin Marx said, “but the oral reasoning is very nerve-racking. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”
Once the team judged the four animals in each class, they had to provide an oral reasoning for their determination of each animals place.
The judging takes the place just like a county fair, where the judge determines the marketability of each animal for breeding or for sale on the market. Each competitor had to write out their oral reasoning and explain their determinations to the judge of why they placed them that way.
Aufderhaar said it was an educational trip.
“It was a total learning experience,” the son of Lisa and Scott Aufderhaar said. “All of us will likely be judges at other fairs when we graduate.”
Russell said the competition also provided them the chance to learn other skills that will carry over into other areas of life.
“You pick up a lot of public speaking skills,” the son of Holly and Mark Russell said. “We picked up a lot of tips on evaluation. We learned skills that will help us down the road in real life experiences.”
All four said they had plans to pursue careers in the agricultural industry as adults. They all live on and currently help on family-owned farms.
“We knew we had a good chance to get all of us in the top 10,” Fledderjohann said. “The thrill leading up to the event is just like any sport.”
The sons of Kathy and Chuck Fledderjohann said placing first in the national competition gave him a boost of confidence.