Will Epperly named Champion at 2017 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship Western Regional
Ruselle Sleep was Reserve Champion and Colton Brantley Runner-Up Champion
Will Epperly, Dunlap, Iowa, was named Champion at the 2017 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) Western Regional Qualifying Event. Lewiston Livestock Market, Lewiston, Idaho, hosted the first of three WLAC qualifying events on Saturday, September 10. A total of 28 contestants competed for a top 10 placing, granting them a spot in the 2017 WLAC at Public Auction Yards in Billings, Mont.
Epperly was sponsored by Dunlap Livestock Auction, Dunlap, Iowa; West Point Livestock Auction, Inc., West Point, Neb.; and S&B Cattle Company, Lexington, Ky.
In 1987, Epperly’s family built a livestock auction market in Virginia, and he spent his childhood years at the market. While watching Ralph Wade, 1974 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, sell at livestock auction, Epperly realized his dream of being a livestock auctioneer.
From there, Epperly began selling baby calves and goats five years old and moved to weigh cows at the age of seven. While he did attend auctioneering school later on, Epperly mostly attributes his auctioneering skill-set to being self-taught. The young auctioneer studied the chants of Wade; Jon Schaben, 2003 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion; Trent Stewart, 2007 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion; and Matt Lowery, 2008 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion.
Epperly has competed in 10 WLAC Regional Qualifying Events, having qualified for the WLAC seven times. The 2017 WLAC Western Regional Qualifying Event is the first Epperly has won, and the auctioneer says he felt, “absolute joy, astonishment and relief” when he heard his name called as Champion.
Also making a great showing were Reserve Champion Russele Sleep, Bedford, Iowa and Runner Up Champion, Colton Brantly, Clovis, Calif. The Top Rookie was Eric Drees, Nampa, Idaho, with a score high enough to qualify for the WLAC. The following contestants also earned a top ten finish: Mitch Barthel, Perham, Minn.; Brandon Hamel, Damar, Kan.; Brennin Jack, Prince Albert, Sask.; Garrett Jones, Los Banos, Calif.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; and Zack Zumstein, Prairie, Idaho.
A live cattle sale took place with actual bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; ability to catch bids and conduct the sale; and if the judge would hire the auctioneer. Judges for each qualifying event are livestock market owners and managers from across the United States. The Western Regional was judged by Billy Easter, Wichita Livestock Sales Co., LLC, Wichita Falls, Texas; Harry Floyd, Hardin County Stockyards, Waynesboro, Tenn.; Thor Roseth, Philip Livestock Auction LLC., Philip, S.D.; Corey Rozenboom, Knoxville Regional Livestock Market, Knoxville, Iowa; and Scott Stickley, Farmers Livestock Exchange, Winchester, Va.
Other contestants who competed are Ross Annett, Brooks, Alberta; Zach Ballard, Creston, Iowa; Jake Bettencourt, Hilmar, Calif.; Jake Cheechov, Eugene, Ore.; Colvin Connell, Mountainair, N.M.; John Coote, La Grande, Ore.; Chuck Cozzitorto, Hilmar, Calif.; Robert Doan, Caldwell, Idaho; Steven Goedert, Charlo, Mont.; Michael Jennings, Condor, AB; Marcus Kent, Dunnellon, Fla.; Cody Kirschbaum, Bloomington, Wisc.; Kale McGuinness, Spokane, Wash.; Kade Rogge, Rupert, Idaho; Lonnie Rudd, Wilder, Idaho; Scott Werlein, Mondovi, Wis.; Kade Wooton, Roswell, N.M.; and Timothy Yoder, Montezuma, Ga.
The contest will re-air Saturday, September 17 on www.LMAauctions.com beginning at 12:00 p.m. CST.
About the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship
In June 1963, the Livestock Marketing Association held the first annual World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The purpose: to spotlight North America’s top livestock auctioneers and to salute their traditionally important role in the competitive livestock marketing process. That year, 23 auctioneers from the United States and Canada sold the same 20 head of cattle over and over again.
The contest was held at hotels until 1967, when it traveled to its first LMA member market. Since then the WLAC has been held in conjunction with the LMA Marketing Industry Convention at member markets around the U.S. and Canada. Recent locations include California, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Kansas, South Dakota and Alberta, Canada.
Though the rules have changed, the enthusiasm for the competition hasn’t. On average each year, nearly 100 auctioneers enter the qualifying events and only 31 (10 from each qualifying event, one from the auctioneering competition at Calgary Stampede) are selected to compete in the WLAC. The championship consists of three stages: the regional qualifying events held at different markets around the country, followed by the semi-finals and the finals that are held each June in conjunction with the LMA Annual Convention. Contestants competing for the World Champion title must be 18 years old, employed as a livestock auctioneer and sponsored by a local auction market that shares in the favorable publicity generated by the winners.
LMA is proud to sponsor an event that brings together North America’s top livestock auctioneers in a competition that showcases professionalism and promotes the auction method of selling livestock.
About the Livestock Marketing Association
The Livestock Marketing Association, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, is North America’s largest membership organization dedicated to supporting, representing and communicating with and for the entire livestock marketing sector. LMA has more than 800 member businesses across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.LMAWeb.com.