The College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Dairy Judging Team won the Intercollegiate Dairy Cattle Judging Contest with one of the highest total scores in the history of the prestigious contest.

The students averaged more than 47 points out of a possible 50 spread across 18 classes of placing and rankings, rising above 20 other teams from the United States and Canada to take the overall team title.

Team members included Matt Fry of Chestertown, Md.; Jacob Pieper of White Hall, Md.; Nicole Ross of Mount Jackson, Va.; and Joseph Sparrow of Owenton, Ky. Michael Barnes and Katharine Knowlton, both faculty members in Virginia Tech’s Department of Dairy Science, coached the team.

“We put a great deal of work into preparing for the contest, and it felt amazing when all of our time and effort finally paid off,” said Sparrow, a senior dairy science major.

Sparrow had the second highest number of individual points and the second highest number of points in the individual reason tests. Fellow team member Fry, a junior dairy science major, won third for individual points and eighth for individual reasons at the competition last week in Wisconsin.

Fry said contestants judged 12 classes of cattle and participated in six oral reason tests. “Our scores for each of the judging competitions were compared to the scores of professional judges,” Fry said. He added that he was “excited and thrilled” that the Virginia Tech team had won first in the team title.

The Dairy Judging Team scored second overall in the team reason tests, while team member Pieper scored seventh overall for individual points. Virginia Tech has not won an overall team title at the prestigious dairy-judging contest since 1984, Sparrow and Fry said.

Following the Virginia Tech team’s lead, the other university teams that scored a high number of overall points included the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, and Cornell University.

The collegiate competition is part of the World Dairy Expo, which brings more than 65,000 dairy industry enthusiasts to Madison, Wis., for an international meet-up about the dairy industry. It offers the largest and most elite combinations of dairy cattle and exhibits in the world.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 1,600 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.