September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"World Dairy Expo is the ultimate experience for dairy judging teams," said Trent Dado, a member of the Wisconsin 4-H dairy judging team.
The Wisconsin and Minnesota 4-H teams and the University of Minnesota team placed near the top of their classes during their respective judging contests at World Dairy Expo on Sept. 30 in Madison, Wis.
The Wisconsin 4-H team placed third overall and second in reasons. The team consisted of Trent Dado, Laura Jensen, Cody Getschel and Chris Rassier. Dado placed fifth in reasons and first overall, Getschel placed 18th overall and eighth in reasons, Jensen placed 22nd overall and seventh in reasons and Rassier placed 22nd in reasons.
For coach Jered Haase, his team went above and beyond his expectations.
"I am proud of the kids," Haase said. "Their time and effort paid off. It's extra special when one wins."
Taking home top honors at the contest was something Dado had always hoped for.
"I did it," Dado said. "I have been working hard for the past nine years, and I have finally accomplished the goal I set so many years ago."
Trent's sister had won high individual at the same contest three years ago.
"That makes this extra special," Haase said. "It's cool that two siblings have won this."
Since he was named high individual of the 4-H contest, Dado received a scholarship from National Dairy Shrine, an All-American plaque, a painting and an opportunity to apply for the National Guernsey Association scholarship.
"I was excited to place that well," Dado said.
Dado was nervous right before he stepped out on the colored shavings. But once the first class stepped into the ring, he found his groove.
"I did what we always do in practice, work hard," Dado said. "Nothing has really changed except the color of the shavings."
The Minnesota 4-H team also had a successful day at World Dairy Expo. The team placed fourth overall and eighth in reasons. The team consisted of Haely Leiding, Kayla Leiding, Travis Troendle and Abby Hopp. Troendle placed 11th in reasons and fifth overall and Haely Leiding placed 18th in reasons and ninth overall.
The team from Minnesota has been working for years to make it to the colored shavings in Madison. After winning their state contest, the opportunity had finally come along.
"We all waited for that moment," Haely Leiding said. "It's what we had dreamed of."
This is not Leiding's first World Dairy Expo. She has watched the show from the stands, but this year she was able to participate in the ring during the National 4-H Dairy Judging contest.
"It's cool sitting in the stands, but it is totally different standing on the shavings," Leiding said. "We are a young team, and I am proud of what we did."
Leiding's teammate, Travis Troendle, was also excited to be at World Dairy Expo, but didn't want to put too much pressure on himself.
"I went in with the mindset of whatever happens, happens," Troendle said.
After placing well individually and as a team, Troendle was pleased with his experience at the national contest.
"It was really exciting," Troendle said. "I didn't expect to place so high. It was nice to have that opportunity."
In the intercollegiate contest, the University of Minnesota dairy judging team proved to be a dominating force. The team placed second overall and second in reasons. The team consisted of Erin Daninger, Doug Petzel, Tyler Otte and Jon Schmitt. Daninger placed fourth overall and first in reasons, Petzel placed fifth in reasons and third overall and Otte placed 20th in reasons and 15th overall.
For Daninger, just being on the senior team and judging at World Dairy Expo is a privilege itself.
"I was very excited to judge at the national contest," Daninger said. "To be a part of the University of Minnesota's great tradition is an honor."
With the University of Minnesota's history of excellence at World Dairy Expo and her family's previous success with judging, Daninger hoped to carry on those traditions.
"I have had great role models and I hoped to live up to what they did one day," Daninger said. "I finally had the opportunity to be first."
Placing first in reasons was something Daninger felt especially proud of.
"I take pride in my reasons because it is something I have put a lot of time and hard work into," Daninger said. "I have drastically improved over the years and public speaking is something I really like."
According to Daninger, most of the team peaked on their reasons at World Dairy Expo.
"You couldn't ask for a better time for that to happen," Daninger said.
Over the course of the past few months, the team has worked closely together and become a more balanced team.
"Where one is weak, the others are strong," Daninger said. "We are united by the love of the dairy cow. That's what makes it great."
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