When we marked cards in Austin: stories from the NSR staff

Brian’s story
It is the dream of every hog kid to win the NBS judging contest. This is a dream that was shared by me and my best friend and teammate through college, Jeremy Jones of Bluffton, Ind. As kids growing up in the same county, we both had a drive to pursue judging at the college level and made the decision to attend Black Hawk East Community College. There were many nights that Jeremy and I would stay up in our college apartment talking about our anticipation, excitement and absolute fear of the NBS contest. We even tore out contest results and ads from the Seedstock EDGE to cover the walls of our apartment. 
I remember the pilgrimage trip our sophomore year like it was yesterday. I placed the last class of Berkshire gilts backwards at the Iowa State University workout and thought the world had ended. I’m pretty sure one of my coaches considered making me walk to Austin, Minn., from Ames, Iowa. I called my dad the night before the contest, and I remember him telling me to sort the hogs like I was in the barn at home. The next day, our team judged in Crane Pavilion, and we had an outstanding day off the floor. Our drops were between 5 and 12 points individually. One of my favorite memories was being a part of the winning team and hearing Jeremy’s name announced as high individual on Tuesday morning.
Two years later, Jones and I continued as teammates at Purdue University. Our senior year, I was fortunate enough to win high individual in the University division. For me and Jeremy, it was a storybook ending for two kids that grew up in awe of the NBS tradition.
I have many other great memories as a former coach of unlikely students that stepped up on contest day to help the team. One thing is for sure, anyone that has had a chance to travel on the pilgrimage trip and compete in Austin walked away from that contest with their own stories and new friendships along the way.

Katie’s story
Even though I grew up a "cattle kid," the National Barrow Show judging contest was the most defining competition of my judging career. I like to say it was both my best and worst moment as a collegiate judger.
Unlike a lot of the “hog kids” reading this story, I entered Crane Pavilion petrified. Hogs were always my "make-or-break" species. And being on the floor for the NBS meant I would mark cards on the toughest swine classes we would see all year. 
Amid all the classes that I sorted that day, Yorkshire boars will always be the one I remember.To this day, I could describe the four boars in that class. I think I will probably be able to describe them until the day I die. Frantically, I filled up my steno with everything I saw, and swirling in my head was what I believed would be the greatest set of reasons I could give. I confidently marked the card, turned it in and headed for the reasons room.
I remember it was the only set I didn’t feel nervous giving because I felt so sure of the way I saw the boars. I walked in that room and didn’t just deliver that set – no, I nailed it!
When our coach picked us up, I went on and on about that set.
“Oh Chip, you should have heard it. I’ll give it to you right now, because it was amazing. That set was flawless.”
Although he was happy I felt I’d done well, he had a bigger question, “How’d you place them?”
I’ll never forget the look on his face when I told him.
“What? That’s dang near backwards,” he exclaimed among other things. At that point, I felt the blood drain from my face, and I became yet another cattle kid who floundered in Austin, Minn.
I was feeling pretty defeated as I sat next to my teammates waiting for the awards ceremony at the breeding hog show on Tuesday morning. Then the speaker announced, “4th Place in Senior College Reasons from the University of Missouri – Katie Maupin.”
What? Was there a mistake?
I couldn’t believe it as I walked down to the floor. The only thing I could think was, How?
Our coach, Chip, grabbed the results and flipped to the scores to see that the epic set of Yorkshire boar reasons – the same class that I placed nearly backwards – scored a 49. To this day, Chip isn’t sure how I pulled it off. I stand behind the fact that it was indeed a stellar set, and it will always be one of my greatest accomplishments. That plaque sits in my office today.
But more important than that plaque or the placing, I learned a valuable lesson:  in judging and in life, it’s not always about how you place, it’s about your perspective.

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