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Panhandle teen's steer named grand champion at rodeo

Amanda Hilo, Houston Chronicle
Updated 12:51 am, Saturday, March 16, 2013
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  • Kelton Long, of Wellington, gets a hug from Stetson Copus after winning...
  • Kelton Long, of Wellington, reacts after winning the Grand Champion Steer of...
  • Kelton Long, of Wellington, waves to Stetson Copus, as he reacts after...

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Chappie was raised to be a winner.

At 1,319 pounds, the auburn Charolais was named the grand champion Friday night at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's Junior Market Steer Show.

"We knew he was special when we first got him as a baby," said 15-year-old Kelton Long of Wellington, in the Panhandle.

Long, who was representing the Collingsworth County 4-H Club, said he groomed and exercised Chappie daily in preparation for the annual livestock exhibition. The 10th-grader said he decided to enter Chappie in the "All Other Breeds" category instead of the one specifically for Charolais, so his steer would stand out.

"You have to risk it to get the biscuit," said Long.

Thirty-two steers were marched into Reliant Arena late Friday to wait for cattle judge Mark Hoge to slap the winning animal, and the runner-up, on the rump.

"The champion steer had a little bit more of the unique aspects I was looking for," Hoge said.

According to Hoge, whose father judged the steer show last year, the animals were judged based on muscularity, proportion of fat cover, symmetry and overall attractiveness.

"For those who don't know much about animals, a champion steer should be built like a middle linebacker-stout, wide, powerful and very athletic," Hoge said. "But it should also have a splash of catalog-cover super model."

The reserve champion was a Chianina named Gene Simmons, raised by 14-year-old Robert Hurst of Friona.

Hurst said he named the 1,329-pound steer for a special reason. The name is the same as the singer for the rock group Kiss.

"He has the longest tongue I've ever seen," said Hurst, with the Farwell FFA. "He would sit in pen for hours and play with his tongue."

Of the 1,760 steers shown at this year's junior market, 420 will be sold at Saturday's auction.

Last year's grand champion sold for $460,000.

Long will get about $75,000 and Hurst will receive a guaranteed $40,000.

Executive Director of Agriculture Exhibits Joel Cowley said the steer auction committee has raised about $3 million in advanced commitment bids from steer buyers. The animals will then go to carcass evaluating companies and eventually be slaughtered for meat.

The students said that although they spent a lot of time with their animals, they knew not to get attached.

"He will be missed," Long said. "But I was prepared."

 

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