"To say the Texas Tech meat judging team has been a success over the past year and a half would kind of be an understatement, considering all these trophies behind me have been won in the last year and a half," AgDay Lubbock reporter Joshua Koch said. "Now going into their final competition of the fall the meat judging team wants to bring home one more trophy, one more time. And it's the national championship trophy and if they bring it home this time it stays right here at Texas Tech University."
"Knowing we have a chance to bring home a national championship is really exciting," Brittany Blum said. "There's no denying that the Texas Tech meat judging program is really well known, not just at Texas Tech and in Lubbock but across the entire nation. So getting the chance to be part of a program that's so successful is really exciting. As well as knowing that all of our hard work is going to pay off as a team. It's nice to know we can count on every single member of our team and know that we have the best 21 judges in the nation. There's no doubt about that."
The 21-member meat judging team at Texas Tech is the largest team in the history of meat judging across the entire nation.
And with a team that big it took some time to bond but now they are definitely a tight-knit group.
"We're kind of a mixed bunch," Colton Coker said. "Some of us came in straight out of high school to here at Tech and some of us are junior college kids. So it was kind of a mix at first but we've all really bonded together. It's good for all of us to be together because we all push each other."
"I mean our 21-person team is huge and I can't imagine it without any one person," Blum said. "And we've definitely become, we're just not a team, we're a family."
The coach of the team, Loni Woolley, who is a graduate research assistant at Texas Tech, has seen her team improve this fall from getting third at the Eastern National Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in Pennsylvania to most recently taking first at the Cargill Meat Solutions' Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest on November 3.
With this improvement, Woolley believes her team is ready to prepare this week for the final contest of the fall.
"I think this team really strives on their performance," Woolley said. "And with a positive performance at the last contest they're really going to be excited to get in the cooler and they're really going to have fun judging, which is the most important part. Yes we're here to win national championships, but that's not the most important part. The most important part is having fun, being a part of the meat judging team, the meat judging family as well as learning new life experiences."
A lot of work has already been put in during the last few months from practicing every Friday from 1 till 8 p.m. and all day on Saturdays preparing for the next competition.
To working on their own outside of practice as well and balancing school work all along the way.
But through all of it their coach, Loni Woolley, has been there helping out in any way and really helping this team get better each day.
"She just puts so much effort into being able to make practice for us," Kassandra Ognoskie said. "Being able to make classes and officials and just being so much a part of what we do. It's amazing to be able to have somebody who's able to be there every step of the way and put in just as much effort as we do and believe in us."
And that belief is what has powered the Meat Judging Team to the cusp of capturing a third-consecutive National Championship and 11th title in school history.
Now all that stands in the way between the team and accomplishing the goal of bringing another title back to Texas Tech is 832 miles, one competition and one more first place finish.