Russele Sleep of Bedford, Iowa was named the 2019 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion (WLAC) at the 56th annual competition held at Tulare Sales Yard, Tulare, Calif. and presented by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA).
“It was a dream come true,” Sleep says. “I started coming to the WLAC competitions in 2009, and it goes to show hard work, dedication and a love for the livestock auction business pays off in the end.”
Sleep, a nine-time top ten qualifier of the WLAC and 2016 Reserve Champion Auctioneer, earned his spot to this year’s competition by winning the LMA’s Midwest Qualifying Event. Twenty-nine other semi-finalists also qualified through three regional qualifying events. The additional semi-finalist was the 2019 International Auctioneer Champion, which is given an automatic “bye” to compete.
Chuck Bradley from Rockford, Ala., earned Reserve Champion honors, and Will Epperly from Dunlap, Iowa, was named Runner-Up Champion.
Other top ten finalists were Eric Drees, Nampa, Idaho; Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alberta; Steven Goedert, Dillion, Mont.; Brennin Jack, Prince Albert, Sask; Ryan Konynenbelt, Ft. Macleod, Alberta; Wade Leist, Boyne City, Mich.; Jacob Massey, Petersburg, Tenn.
Additional semi-finalists were Neil Bouray, Webber, Kan.; Colton Brantley, Modesto, Calif.; Darren Carter, Ninety Six, S.C.; Dakota Davis, Caldwell, Kan.; Brandon Frey, Creston, Iowa; Philip Gilstrap, Pendleton, S.C.; Shane Hatch, Kirtland, N.M.; Jim Hertzog, Butler, Mo.; Garrett Jones, Los Banos, Calif.; Lynn Langvardt, Chapman, Kan.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jeremy Miller, Fairland, Okla.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Christopher Pinard, Swainsboro, Ga.; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, Ky.; Jim Settle, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Dustin Smith, Jay, Okla.; Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.; Tim Yoder, Montezuma, Ga.; Vern Yoder, Dundee, Ohio and Zack Zumstein, Marsing, Idaho.
Kristen Parman, LMA VP of Membership Services, says, “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.”
As a part of the champion’s role, Sleep will spend the next year traveling the country, sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock auction markets and acting as a spokesperson on behalf of the livestock marketing industry and the LMA.
“The auctioneer championship showcases the importance of the local livestock markets and the role the auctioneer plays in true-price discovery and I’m looking forward to promoting that this year,” Sleep says.
Sleep, a Missouri Auction School graduate, works as a contract auctioneer for Knoxville Regional Livestock Market, Fort Scott Livestock Market, Inc., Southeast Kansas Stockyards LLC, Clarinda Livestock Auction, Inc., Russell Livestock Market and Green City Livestock Marketing LLC. He lives in Bedford, Iowa with his wife Lacey and three children.
A one-hour highlight show from the 2019 competition will air on RFD-TV June 24 beginning at 7 p.m. (CST). WLAC fans can mark their calendars for the 2020 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, which will be held next June 3–6 at the Dickson Regional Livestock Center, in Dickson, Tenn.
About the Livestock Marketing Association
The Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), 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.