K-State Crops Team claims fifth straight national championship

K-State Communications and Marketing
The K-State Crops Team claimed the title of national champion for the fifth year in a row by winning the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Context and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest in November. (Photo: K-State Communications and Marketing)

The Kansas State University Crops Team recently captured the title of national champion for the fifth year in a row. K-State teams have now won the crops contest championship in 12 of the past 15 years.

To win the 2013 national title, the team won both the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 19 and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 23.

K-State placed first at both contests in plant-and-seed identification and grain grading, and second in seed analysis. Individually, the three K-State team members completed a rare sweep of the top three places in both contests.
Members of the K-State team were Jeri Sigle, senior, Council Grove; Nathan Larson, sophomore, Kensington; and Morgan Halderson, senior, Delphos. Alternates were sophomores Sam Knauss, Paola; Tyler Herrs, Linn; and Ben Coomes, Girard. All are agronomy majors except Sigle, who is majoring in agricultural education with a minor in agronomy.  

Sigle was the high individual overall in both contests. In Chicago she was first in grain grading with a perfect score, second in identification, and third in seed analysis. In Kansas City she was second in identification and seed analysis and fourth in grain grading. 

Nathan Larson finished second overall in both contests, tying with Sigle in Chicago for first in grain grading with a perfect score, and finished first in identification and fifth in seed analysis.  In Kansas City, he was first in identification and second in grain grading.

Morgan Halderson was third in both events, highlighted by a first place finish in grain grading with a perfect score in Kansas City. She was second in grain grading in Chicago and fourth in identification in both contests. 

Sam Knauss was an alternate in both contests, and he also posted a perfect score in grain grading in Kansas City. Tyler Herrs and Ben Coomes competed in Kansas City.    

The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy. Assistant coach was Hannah Christen, senior in agronomy from Oregon, Ill., who was a member of the 2012 team.

In the contests, participants are required to identify 200 different plant or seed samples of crops and weeds; grade eight different samples of grain according to Federal Grain Inspection Service standards; and analyze ten seed samples to determine what contaminants they contain.

The American Royal assumed leadership of the Kansas City contest this year, with CHS Foundation as the primary sponsor. Additional sponsors were the American Society of Agronomy, DuPont Pioneer, and the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association.

The primary sponsor of the Chicago contest this year was the CME Group. In addition, donors in Chicago included the Crop Science Society of America, Growmark Cooperative, and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists.

For its performance, K-State received a team scholarship award from contest sponsors at Kansas City, and CME Group provided individual scholarships to the top five students at Chicago.

Locally, sponsors for the K-State Crops Team include the Kansas Crop Improvement Association, K-State Department of Agronomy, and the K-State Student Government Association.

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