Experts and novices compete at 85th Little International

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Amongst the tightly grouped herd of swine and under the watchful eye of the judge, Torrey Sharkey prodded his red Duroc swine around the ring. The Duroc had other ideas.

“He wouldn’t stay moving; he wanted to stand,” said Sharkey, a sophomore agronomy major.

Sharkey’s troubles continued when the judge asked him to pen his swine. Perhaps his Duroc, like many of the livestock at the 85th Little International, was showing what Sharkey would call his “ornery side.”

Sharkey was one of 146 collegiate participants, while 1635 high school students competed in this year’s Little I. The event, which is the largest student-run, two-day agricultural exposition in the U.S., was held April 4 and 5, with most of the over 50 events taking place in the Animal Science Arena.

Major award winners were Tyler Fruechte, Round Robin Champion and Highest Point Total for a Freshman; Amanda Nolz, Highest Point Total for an Upperclassman; and Caleb Englin, Round Robin Reserve Champion.

Fruechte felt pretty good about his double win. “My brother did it the previous year, and it was kind of my goal to get two in one year,” he said. “Everything was really tough, and there was really good competition through everything.”

Despite his best efforts in the Novice Swine Showmanship, Sharkey did not place. Still, he had positive feelings about the event and might try to show a different species next year.

“I was leery going into it because I’ve never done it before,” he said. “I’d say it’s a good experience for people just to get involved with something, get out of the dorm and meet some new people.”

Senior Becca Lutz, on the other hand, championed both high fashion and hair styling for livestock by winning the Lamb Lead and Beef Fitting for heifers.

In Lamb Lead, contestants try to coordinate their outfits, which should be made of wool, with their lamb’s blanket, and contestants must know a little about the wool industry. Each organization or club involved with Little I has a contestant; Lutz represented Collegiate 4-H.

Part of Lutz’s outfit was an orange 80 percent wool jacket, and her lamb wore a matching orange blanket with a human’s brown wool hat tied under the chin. Another contestant in the Lamb Lead wore 100 percent wool boxers.

For Beef Fitting, Lutz had to “train” her heifer’s hair to look nice. To do that, she had to trim some hair on the head, belly and a little on top, and she put some adhesives, like hair spray, and foam mousse, in the heifer’s hair. In the end, the heifer should look like a large square block.

“It was very surreal to win both,” she said. “I knew there was a lot of good competition, and I really, honestly didn’t think I had a chance.”

Lutz also placed third in the Beef Showmanship competition. During this event, participants – in their black ties, white shirts and black pants – lead their heifer or bull in a circle around the ring and stop the animal to stand in profile when asked by the judge.

Myles Nielson, a sophomore animal science major, and his bull, Delmer, placed sixth in the event. Nielson was pleased with his performance, but nerves got to him during the event.

“[I was] nervous because there were lots of people and lots of new faces that I’ve never seen before,” he said. “Some family came, and that always adds some pressure.”

The next competition on April 5 was the Sheep Showmanship Finals. In front of the red barn backdrop and with the buzz of people talking and laughing in the background, participants circle their sheep around the ring and line them in a row when prompted by the judge.

Sophomore Lindsey Doering, who has shown animals for 14 years, won third place for her sheep showing skills. She was impressed with her ewe for its behavior in the ring because only a few nights before, the animal was not so cooperative.

“The ewe had not been around humans, so it was jumpy and didn’t know how to react,” she said. “The ewe’s head would tremble, and when you touched her, you could feel and tell that she was very nervous.”

One of the final competitions of the night was the Horse Showmanship Finals. For this competition, the judge picks a pattern for the participant to lead the horse through.

Jenelle Bussard, a freshman animal science major, won the competition and the wooden chair given to individual champions, despite her case of nerves.

“My heart was pounding and almost coming out of my chest,” she said. “I was watching people and picking out the good and bad, wondering how I would do.”

The final competition of the evening was the Round Robin event. All the champion and reserve champions of the showmanship competitions come back, and each one shows every species – dairy, beef, horse, swine and sheep – for the event. Fruechte won the event and Englin was the reserve champion.

Despite a few animals escaping their handlers during competitions and a few other difficulties for participants, the weekend went well, said Jared Sanderson, the 2008 assistant manager and 2009 manager of Little I.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or a better staff,” he said. “It was perfect.”

Results from 2008 Little International

2008 Hardest Worker Champions: Dairy: Brittany Nussbaum Sheep: Caleb Englin Beef: Amanda Lindsey Swine: Jerod Matthews Horse: Nina Rohlf Lamb Lead: Tyler Fruechte

2008 Collegiate Judging Champions:

Dairy Cattle Judging Champion: Kaitlin Van EckReserve Champion: Laura Perli

Dairy FoodsChampion: Jerod MatthewsReserve Champion: Amanda Nolz

General Livestock Champion: Ann Kolthoff Reserve Champion: Ashley Pigors

HorseChampion: Eric Gjerde Reserve Champion: Jon De Jong

MeatsChampion: Emily Evans Reserve Champion: Christa Larson

CropsChampion: Greg Caleman Reserve Champion: Amanda Nolz

Natural ResourcesChampion: Steve Resler Reserve Champion: Eric Gjerde

Farm Business Management Champion: Chris Thoene Reserve Champion: Jerod Matthews

Floriculture Champion: Amanda Nolz Reserve Champion: Emily Evans

Nursery LandscapeChampion: Jerod Matthews Reserve Champion: Emily Evans

Wool JudgingChampion: Jerod Matthews Reserve Champion: Amanda Nolz

Machinery Sales Champion: Olaf Haugen Reserve Champion: Jerod Matthews

Agriculture Product SalesChampion: Laurie Zubke Reserve Champion: Amanda Nolz

Agronomy ShowsChampion: Jerod Matthews Reserve Champion: Tyler Fruechte

LivestockHigh Point Freshman: Tyler FruechteHigh Point Upperclassman: Amanda NolzChampion Round Robin Showman: Tyler FruechteReserve Champion Round Robin Showman: Caleb Englin


ShowmanshipChampion: Amanda NolzReserve Champion: Amanda Lindsey

Bull FittingChampion: Amanda NolzReserve Champion: Amanda Lindsey

Heifer FittingChampion: Becca LutzReserve Champion: Ann Kolthoff


ShowmanshipChampion: Nicole RasmussenReserve Champion: Ben Velleck


Showmanship Champion: Tyler FruecteReserve Champion: Caleb Englin

FittingChampion: Tyler FruecteReserve Champion: Berienne Bangert


Showmanship Champion: Jenelle BussardReserve Champion: Katie Stratmeyer

FittingChampion: Amanda SchiefelbeinReserve Champioin: Nina Rohlf


ShowmanshipChampion: Brittany NussbaumReserve Champion: Allison Stevens

FittingChampion: Nicole StevensReserve Champion: Brittany Nussbaum