Nov. 7 2023 09:47 AM

Wisconsin 4-H and the University of Wisconsin-Madison had the top two individuals in their respective contests.

The winning teams from Wisconsin: Front Row: Sara Dorshort, Gracie Krahn, Natalie Roe, Emma Dorshorst, and Kylie Konyn. Back row: 4-H coach Matt Dorshorst, UW-Madison coach Brian Kelroy, Ella Raatz, Ava Hebgen, Julia Searls, and UW-Madison coach Trent Olson

The dairy judging contest held at the North American International Livestock Exposition is the final contest of the year. The teams from Wisconsin concluded the year on a high note, with the top two individuals in both the youth and collegiate contests hailing from the Badger State. In the two-year college contest, Kaskaskia College in Illinois repeated their victory from World Dairy Expo.

Youth (4-H & FFA) contest

The high individual in the combined youth (4-H and FFA) contest was Wisconsin 4-H’s Ava Hebgen. She was followed by teammate Julia Searls. Searls took home the silver bowl for being high individual in oral reasons. She earned an impressive 190 points on four sets and had a 7-point reasons advantage over Ohio 4-H’s Aubree Topp, who would go on to place third overall. Fourth and fifth place overall were claimed by Minnesota 4-H members Katie Ketchum and Klaudia Biel.

Hebgen won the Brown Swiss breed with a perfect 150 points (100 on classes and 50 on reasons) and Searls followed in second. In the Guernsey breed, Isaac Folts of New York 4-H earned the highest score. Pennsylvania 4-H’s Clayton Prinkey won the Ayrshire breed. Indiana FFA member Cooper Steele won Holsteins, while fellow Hoosier State resident, Amelia Stone of Indiana 4-H, won the Jersey breed.

In the field of 15 teams, Wisconsin 4-H won the Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, and Jersey breeds. In addition to Hebgen and Searls, Sara Dorshorst and Ella Raatz completed the Wisconsin 4-H team. They also took the top oral reasons honor, just nudging New York 4-H by three points in total reasons scores. New York 4-H won the Guernsey and Holstein breeds.


In the collegiate contest, it was a tie for the top honor, but after the tiebreakers, Badger Natalie Roe edged teammate Kylie Konyn. (In oral reasons, Roe and Konyn tied again – this time for second and third, with the nod going to Roe.) They had a 7-point advantage over Purdue’s Lane Bollenbacher, who earned third overall. The University of Minnesota’s Megan Ratka finished in fourth after a tiebreaker with and Iowa State’s Delana Erbsen. Ratka’s teammate Kelsey Biel followed in sixth.

The Ayrshire breed was won by Delana Erbsen. University of Minnesota’s Sarah Hagenow topped the Brown Swiss breed, and Bollenbacher won the Guernseys. Roe won the Holsteins, and Biel claimed the top Jersey prize. The top reasons score went to Megan Ratka from the University of Minnesota.

The Badger team consisted of Roe, Konyn, Gracie Krahn (seventh overall) and Emma Dorshorst (11th overall). While UW-Madison won Ayrshires, Brown Swiss, Holsteins, and oral reasons, the hardware was also spread to South Dakota State University, who won the Guernsey breed, and Michigan State University who captured the Jersey title. Overall, the University of Minnesota was second, South Dakota State University third, Michigan State University fourth, and Iowa State fifth. Fifteen full teams participated in the contest.

Two-year contest

While the team at the top of the two-year division, Illinois’ Kaskaskia College, had an encore performance from their Madison victory, their top individual was not the same. Kansas native Sophie Leach placed second overall last month and rebounded to take the top trophy at this Louisville contest.

Kaskaskia College Coach Aaron Heinzmann, Braden Hartmann, Savannah Rice, Sophie Leach, Libby Shaver, Gracen Hoffman, and Gage Wendling

Morgan Wilcox form SUNY Morrisville won the Ayrshire breed. SUNY Cobleskill’s Annika Donlick received the Brown Swiss bell as the breed’s best judge. Kaskaskia’s Savannah Rice won Guernseys. In the Holstein breed, Michigan State Ag Tech’s Abigail Olger was the top judge. Amber MacNeil from SUNY Cobleskill won the Jersey breed. SUNY Cobleskill’s Whitney Yerina won the reasons portion by five points.

In addition to winning high overall team, Kaskaskia won the Guernsey breed with a top three sweep with Rice, Libby Shaver, and Leach. Teammate Gage Wendling was seventh. They also won the Jersey breed with second through fifth place individuals. Kaskaskia College won reasons by a slim 2-point margin over SUNY Cobleskill. Second-place overall team SUNY Cobleskill won Ayrshires, Brown Swiss, and Holsteins. Modesto Junior College in California was third, followed by Michigan State Ag Tech in fourth, and Southwest Wisconsin Technical College was fifth.

The George Heersche Trophy, named for the long-time contest organizer, recognizes the top individual in the three divisions. Pictured are Natalie Roe (collegiate), Sophie Leach (2-year college), and Ava Hebgen (youth).

Patti Hurtgen

The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars, podcasts, and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.