No Beef: WT Meat Science Team Wins National Championship

Chip Chandler Aug 07, 2020
  • Agriculture
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No Beef: WT Meat Science Team Wins National Championship

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University agriculture students took a bite out of their competition and won their first-ever national championship.

Members of the WT team competed virtually against 20 other teams from a dozen universities Aug. 1 and 2 in the American Meat Science Association’s Undergraduate Meat Science Quiz Bowl.

Students showed their knowledge of meat industry history, muscle structure and function, food safety regulations, microbiology, meat grading, current events and more.

“The Quiz Bowl is similar to ‘Jeopardy,’ but it’s all about meat science,” said Dr. Loni Lucherk, assistant professor of animal science, who coached the quiz bowl team with graduate student Travis Tilton.

The competition is usually held during the national Reciprocal Meat Conference for universities, government and ag industries, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held virtually this year. The final round of the Quiz Bowl was broadcast live on AMSA’s Facebook page.

“I am so proud of the work they put in given the virtual setback,” Lucherk said. “This conference was supposed to take place in Disney World, so I feel like they deserve a lot of praise for studying so hard given the situation.”

Students must be undergraduates or have graduated within one year of the competition, and once team members win a national championship, they are no longer eligible to compete. Each university may enter two teams of four students each. WT has never before advanced to the finals in the competition, which has been held since 2002.

WT’s championship-winning Maroon Team members include Becca Grimes, a recent graduate in animal science from Gilmer; Jared Young, a recent graduate in animal science — pre-vet from Wylie; Zach McDonough, a junior animal science major from Plainview; and Jake Gillespie, a junior ag business major from Joshua.

“This group of students was easy to coach because they enjoyed learning and competing more than any team I have ever coached before, and we had such a wide range of knowledge on our team,” Lucherk said. “Becca was our all-star, you could say. She has had the most experience and has competed before. Jared was a pre-vet student while at WT, so he was our microbiology and chemistry expert. Zach has worked in the meat lab and for the Beef Carcass Research Center for the past couple years, so he was our processed meats expert. Jake just transferred to WT from Clarendon College to be on the meat judging team. He was definitely the most improved throughout the summer.”

WT’s White Team consisted of Will Boyd, a junior animal science major from Joshua; Patrick Sharp, a junior animal science major from Ocala, Fla.; Claire Shaw, a junior animal science major from Wichita Falls; and Adrian Lunsford, a recent graduate in animal science from Grady, N.M.

“The students on both teams really did our University proud,” said Dr. Lance Kieth, Agricultural Sciences department head. “We’re in the heart of the meat-processing industry — in fact, we’re in the agricultural heart of the entire nation — and seeing these students succeed so well really shows how the hard work of our faculty will pay off for our community.”

Agriculture sciences are a pivotal field of study at WT, in line with the University’s generational plan WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.