Bryan High School student Haley Wendler brought some hardware home from Houston Wednesday night. The 18-year-old won the Junior Commercial Steer competition at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
"It was my last and final year that I could compete," said the five-time participant, "and I was very confident that I was going to go far."
Wendler's parents encouraged their daughter to enter the competition, though there was some resistance at first.
"I wasn't very excited about it when I began," Wendler said, "but after I was in it for a while, it was something that I really enjoyed."
The three-day competition to decide a grand champion included weighing and grading the steer, written tests and interviews. The competiton, Wendler says, was stiff.
"It didn't set in that I could win this until they were calling out all the finalists, eighth through first, and I was still up there when they had about three people left," she said.
But when the dust cleared, Wendler had earned the top honors. She'll pocket around $2,000 for the win, as well as the keys to a 2007 Ford pick-up.
"I can't explain what I was feeling," Wendler said. "It was a mixture of so many emotions. Every year, I worked so hard, studied so hard, fed my steers, did my record book, and finally, all that has paid off."
Around 80 people from across the state competed in the junior commercial steer competition this year.