Youngsters, seniors shine bright at RGV Livestock Show steer judging

dfwnewsa | March 15, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Youngsters, seniors shine bright at RGV Livestock Show steer judging

MERCEDES — The steers stood in the ring stoic and strong as the students who raised them stroked their bellies to keep them calm and focused.

The judge at the steer competition at the 85th Annual Lower Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo moved carefully in and around the animals. He said little at first but his silence and his face revealed concentration of an intensity and seriousness born of a respect for the importance of the moment for the kids and their families.


And their teachers.

“Push his leg back a little bit,” said ag teacher Joe Carter to his young student, Tenley Wilson, 18, a senior at Sharyland Pioneer High School in Mission.

“You’re fine,” Carter said. “You fixed it.”

There was excitement and newness flowing through the spacious barn and the applause from another arena. The shouts and the echoes of those shouts sailed through the area and over the heads of the families and the students and their teachers and seemed to herald the spirit and the glory of a livestock show coming to an end and the grand finale that would be the Sale of Champions on Saturday.

But today on this Friday the kids and their animals and the judge knew only one thing, the judging of the steers and the tense moments awaiting the judge’s comments and his decisions.

“We have a really nice lineup,” said the judge. “We have a steer that is incredibly shapely over his ribs.”

Such were the stream of comments and compliments and the critiquing of the areas which could be better. There was a majesty about these animals and the students who led them and a silence of the animals which had a more stately and classical appearance. There was none of the chaos and the nervousness and the animated jumping and fidgeting of the hogs and the goats and the lambs. Instead it was a quiet and noble time in the ring.

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The judge looked carefully, spoke with authority, and then …

“Buddy” is held during the steer judging at the 85th Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo on Friday, March 15, 2024, in Mercedes. (Joel Martinez |

Applause cascading from the bleachers and into the arena as the judge delivered his prize verdict on Tenley, a tall and impressive figure with blonde hair and radiant face. The coaching of many years and the direction in her senior year and the direction on Friday by Carter had paid off in a very big way.

“I am very excited for her,” Carter said as he moved quickly toward Tenley and her family on the other side of the arena.

“She’s a hard worker,” he added. “She put in a lot of hours the past four years.”

The radiance and smiling and the joy of Tenley and the calm with which she worked with her animal conveyed the satisfaction of many years of working to finally achieve the ultimate goal.

“It’s exhilarating, especially this being my senior year,” she said. “I’ve been working on this for awhile. I started showing cattle three years ago but I’ve been showing for seven years. This is my second year showing Simbrah.”

As in many of the triumphs and activities that take place on the livestock showgrounds this winning by Tenley and this journey by Tenley has been very much a family effort.

“Her buckle is so pretty,” quipped her sister Tatum, age 12.

Her father Timber commended his daughter for the concentration and the success she has developed for many years.

“She works very hard and takes a lot of time and dedication to be ready for showtime,” he said. “This kind of industry forces you to work hard and through that she’s carried that mentality into her schoolwork and everything else in life.”

Running a close second behind was Matthew Sanchez, a senior at Edinburg North, who took reserve grand champion for his steer.

Daniel Guzman, 11, guides “Queso” during the steer judging at the 85th Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo on Friday, March 15, 2024, in Mercedes. (Joel Martinez |

“I attribute my success to my father’s breeding program and his eye for … cattle,” said Matthew, 17, whose family owns IGS Cattle Company in Linn.

Jess Pool earlier this week spoke about the benefits of Simbrah cattle for their mix of Simmental and Brahman cattle. Pool said he liked Simbrah because their Brahman influence gave their better tolerance again heat and disease and insects.

One Friday morning Matthew looked at it from the other direction, pointing out that the Simmental in his animals gave them more beef and resistance against the cold.

Matthew has also shown bulls and heifers for years and won many top awards for his work. This was the first year he showed a steer, and he still continued the great tradition of success.

The shining buckle and the ribbon and the bright and shining of success serves as a fine inspiration for the younger agriculture students just coming in.

In the Charolais steer competition, a small boy in a bright red shirt struggled with his steer “Queso,” pulling the rope and grimacing at a somewhat arrogant steer who seemed intent on giving his owner Daniel Guzman III a hard time.

The frustration in the 11-year-old’s face and his leaning back and gripping the rope hard and his hand punching the air was evident. “Queso” seemed impervious of Daniel’s efforts, unmoving no matter how hard Daniel tried.

This battle of wills went on for many minutes while friends and family shouted “Go Daniel! Go Daniel,” empowering his resolve and his own determination to bring his steer into compliance.

And finally…

The steer relented, and this little spitfire of a boy, this firecracker, led his animal through the ring.

His stern face and taught and wiry frame seemed fitting now for a boy so adamant about maintaining authority over his animal. And certainly now the glory of achievement and the crashing of claps and cheers as the judge named him the Grand Champion Steer for his Charolais.

His father and his mother and his teachers and his friends all surrounded him with handshakes and hugs and embraces. His father Daniel Guzman Jr. gave warm and tight and endearing embraces to the young boy with the strong spirit who has already accomplished many things.

“He’s worked hard all year,” said Guzman. “He put in the time and the blood and effort. He has the heart.”

Daniel, a fifth grader at Dr. Raul Garza STEAM Academy in San Benito, was rather speechless at first, but soon began sharing opening his experience. It turns out this is not Daniel’s first taste of glory. He won breed champion overall last year too.

What’s his winning formula?

He shrugged and said, “It’s just practice and making everything better. I just exercised him twice a week and fed him every day.”

His passion and his drive brings up again the fighting spirit of one Emma Ybarra, 10, of Mercedes, who fought hard and long and with admirable tenacity to bring her very difficult hog into the arena and around the arena for everyone to see.

These little spitfires, these firecrackers, are what livestock show is all about. They are the lifeblood of livestock show and the promise of an enduring tradition and the continuing of that tradition for many generations.

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