By Julie Tomascik

They were freshmen in high school and had a passion for livestock, 4-H and a willingness to learn something new.

McKade Krenz, Trey Von Dohlen, Cahil Murchison and Kyle Galipp, all members of Caldwell County Farm Bureau, took on a new adventure—livestock judging.

Now, four years later, they’ve graduated high school, but they’re still judging together.

“It’s been the four of us from the start,” Krenz said. “We were building on something we already liked—showing livestock.”

That was their foundation and their future.

With each practice and contest, the team of four gained the knowledge and confidence that would eventually catapult them to national recognition.

Last June, the team advanced to the state livestock judging contest. And they won.

They moved on to represent Texas at the North American International Livestock Exposition judging contest in Louisville, Ky., later that fall.

There, they carved their name in livestock history. They were named national champions. Three of the four members finished among the top 20 contestants and were named All-Americans.

“I think I can speak for all four of us when I say that we had the mentality that we were going to go in and do our best,” Krenz said. “We had a good shot at winning. That day we were clicking on all cylinders. It was the best we’ve ever been performing and judging.”

Next on their list is the International Livestock Judging Contest in Scotland later this month. They’ll represent their hometown of Lockhart, Caldwell County and the state of Texas with pride.

“This is an exciting accomplishment for our team,” Krenz said. “We’ve worked hard to get where we are. It takes lots of practice and dedication, but we’re willing to commit the time and effort to continually improve.”

Over the last few years, the young men have taken home numerous individual awards and team awards. That recognition, though, is an added bonus.

“We’re learning about livestock. We’re developing presentation skills, decision-making skills and learning how to better explain our evaluation of livestock to judges,” Krenz said. “Winning the awards are great, but our team has learned a lot even when we don’t take home the top prize.”

They’ll head to Scotland with dreams of claiming an international title. But with or without the banner, the Caldwell County Livestock Judging Team leaves behind a legacy.