LUBBOCK, Texas — The Texas Tech Meat Judging Team competed at the 2021 American Meat Science Association International Meat Judging Contest in Nebraska and brought back a third consecutive national championship title.
Texas Tech was able to win against Kansas State University by 42 points, and by doing so, added a 16th win for the organization’s winning streak since 1989.
Taylor Schertz, assistant coach for the 2021 team and former 2019 champion, said members of the team are tested on being able to grade and evaluate meat just by eyesight.
“Students actually have to be able to look at a ribeye, and without using any tools, they have to be able to say how big the ribeye is in square inches, which is really crazy,” said Schertz.
Schertz said the team dedicates several hours during the week.
“They all finish class at 1:00 and pretty much have their evenings with us [in the meat lab] practicing and working out, said Schertz, “Then every Saturday morning starting at 4:00 a.m., we are meat here in the meat lab.”
Schertz said the pre-pandemic, the team could travel to a meat plant in Friona, an hour away from Lubbock, but due to COVID, it wasn’t available, so they traveled 12 hours to Omaha, Nebraska, to another meat plant.
“We start at 4 or 5 in the morning, and we are not finished until around 5 or 6 in the afternoon,” said Schertz.
Schertz said people on their team came in with varying levels of experience and were all able to do well in the competition.
“We have a few members on the team that started in seventh and eighth grade with meat judging. They knew what Texas Tech was, and they set that goal years ago that they wanted to be on the 2021 meats judging team,” said Schertz. “They wanted to win the national championship, and we do have a lot of students who had never judged meats before and were still super successful this past weekend and throughout this whole year.”
Conner McKinzie, an assistant coach for the team and a 2019 champion, said the team has been able to continue its legacy with the help of community support, faculty and mentorship.
“When you think about Texas Tech misjudging you, think about Dr. Marc Miller,” said McKinzie, “He’s been here since 1989 when he won the national championship he’s been coaching for. I think this was his 42nd year. And so, he’s been the one constant that I think is a true testament to the success of this program.”
McKinzie said the organization focuses on helping students build skills they can take with them for a lifetime.
“You take the students that come through this at the beginning of the year, [and] they’re not the same person when they leave,” said McKinzie,” Thank you for the Lubbock community for all the support you give to Texas Tech and me judging program.”