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K-State Research and Extension News

Sweep by K-State Crops Team leads to seventh straight national championship

Team members win top individual, as well as team awards.

2015 crops teamPhoto and caption available

Released: Dec. 8, 2015

MANHATTAN – The Kansas State University Crops Team recently captured the title of national Collegiate Crops Contest champion for the seventh year in a row. K-State teams have now won this contest in 14 of the past 17 years.

To win the 2015 national title, the team won both the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 19 and the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 23. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville placed second in both events, while the University of Minnesota-Crookston took third.  

Official members of the K-State team were Samantha L’Ecuyer, Morrowville, junior in agronomy; Nicole Sudbeck, Seneca, sophomore in agronomy; and Michaela Simmelink, Downs, senior in animal sciences and industry. Alternate contestants were agronomy majors Brett Manville, Valley Falls, senior; Hayden Guetterman, Bucyrus, junior; Jessi Bramhall, Seneca, junior; and Sarah Zerger, Cheney, sophomore. 

The team swept the team and individual awards at both the Kansas City and Chicago contests. K-State placed first at both events in all three phases of the contest: plant and seed identification, grain grading, and seed analysis. Individually, the three K-State team members placed 1-2-3 overall in both contests. Such a sweep of all three contest parts and the top three individual placings at both contests is very rare, and has only been accomplished once previously in the 82-year history of the contests -- also by K-State, in 2009.

Samantha L’Ecuyer took first place overall at both contests. She won all three components at Kansas City, with perfect scores in both grain grading and seed analysis. At Chicago, she also had a perfect score in grain grading, and was first in seed analysis and second in identification.  Her overall score of 1796.8 out of 1800 possible points in Kansas City was the fourth highest ever in the contest, and the highest since a perfect overall score in 1965.  

Nicole Sudbeck was second overall in both contests. At Chicago, she was first in plant and seed identification, second in grain grading and third in seed analysis. At Kansas City, she was second in all three components. 

Michaela Simmelink placed third in both events. She also had a perfect score in grain grading in Kansas City for a first place tie with L’Ecuyer, and was third in seed analysis and fourth in identification. At Chicago, she was third in both grain grading and identification and sixth in seed analysis.

The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy. Assistant coaches were Ben Coomes, agronomy senior from Girard, and Marshall Hay, agronomy graduate teaching assistant from Lynnville, Iowa.

In the contests, participants were 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 10 seed samples to determine what contaminants they contain.

The American Royal coordinated the Kansas City contest, with CHS Foundation as the primary financial 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 was the CME Group. Additional 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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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans.  Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Steve Watson, 785-532-7105 or swatson@k-state.edu

For more information:
Kevin Donnelly, 785-532-5402 or kjd@k-state.edu