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April 8, 2010
The Northwest soils team, making its first showing at the National Collegiate Soils Contest March 25-26, placed ninth among 21 teams and had two representatives who scored high individual marks.
Competing against 84 individual contestants, Northwest's Jeremiah Mullock placed 15th and Justin Findley placed 18th. Mullock also was the high scorer on one of three individual pits.
"I was very, very pleased with the results, particularly since it was our first time at nationals," said Dr. Jamie Patton, the team's adviser and an assistant professor of agriculture.
Doyle Bounds, Northwest admissions representative, traveled with the team and assisted coaching, along with Meredith Albers and Crystal Frey, who coach the University of Missouri-Columbia soils judging team.
Virginia Tech University won the contest, with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the University of Rhode Island taking second and third, respectively. The competition took place at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
During a soil judging contest, students describe and classify the soil profile in several pits. They describe the color, texture and structure, among other properties of the soil horizon. Team members use their observations to classify the parent material, water-holding ability and suitability for different uses of each soil sample. They also determine the soil characteristics within a time limit and rotate among the pits during competition. The student's final descriptions are ranked in comparison to official judges to determine the winners.
The Northwest team, in its third year, qualified for its first national competition in October by winning the American Society of Agronomy Region 5 Soil Judging Contest in Columbia. Northwest, the only NCAA Division II school to compete in the regional competition claimed the victory over two-time defending national champion Kansas State University.
Other members of the Northwest team are Chester Greub (junior, Gower, double major in agricultural business and agronomy), Justin Findley (senior, New Hampton, agronomy), Chris Schumacher (senior, Columbus, Neb., double major in agricultural business and agronomy), Matt Brown (senior, agronomy, Skidmore), Eric Puckett (senior, double major in agricultural business and agronomy, Columbus, Neb.). Mullock graduated from Northwest in December and is working toward a master's at Oklahoma State University but was allowed to compete with the Northwest team at the national contest because he was a member of the regional qualifying team.