Don't mess with Jerica DeLong.
After months of preparing for livestock shows, she's all business. Just before she steps in the arena, "I tell my lamb he better work or I'll kick his butt."
That hard work and attitude have paid off for the 10-year-old sheep rancher. She won her market lamb class and placed eighth in junior showmanship last week at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
"It was an awesome experience," Jerica's mother, Phyllis DeLong, said. "You kind of feel like it's a chance-of-a-lifetime thing. I hope she'll have more chances, but to me, this one was amazing."
Youths who place first or second in their class are eligible to sell their lambs and are entered into the Sheep Premier Exhibitor contest.
The contest awards points for class ranking, carcass evaluation and showmanship. Exhibitors also complete an essay, interview, quiz and speech. The exhibitor with the highest score at the end wins $2,000 for first place or $1,000 for second. Jerica finds out in March how she placed.
"Very few 10-year-olds are exposed to that," Jerica's father, Jerry DeLong, said. "It was a learning experience even though it wasn't in a classroom setting."
Jerica showed two wethers at the Stock Show -- Hank, who did not place, and Drover, who placed in showmanship, won the 137- to 138-pound weight class and was sold at auction.
Jerica estimates she spent $450 purchasing and feeding Drover, who sold last week for $4,800.
"It's either going to go into my college fund or use it to buy lambs," Jerica said.
Phyllis added Jerica has an investment account she can deposit funds into, and that she probably will buy a new pair of boots.
This isn't the first time Jerica has brought home the bacon.
Although it's her second year of showing -- aside from some jackpot shows when she was a "pee wee" -- she has a few notches in her belt.
At the Moffat County Fair in August, Jerica placed first in one class, fourth in another and third overall for market lambs. She won grand champion showman and took grand champion in the round robin event.
In swine, Jerica placed second and third and won grand champion junior showman.
Then she advanced to the state fair, winning fifth and sixth place with her lambs. Jerica also participates in jackpot shows throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
Raising livestock is a tradition she inherited from her father. Jerry's family, which included six children, showed the grand champion lamb at the local fair in Otero County 16 of the 17 years they competed.
Even though it runs in her blood, Jerica still gets anxious before entering the show arena.
"Especially at Stock Show, you're nervous because you don't know what the judge is going to think of your lamb," Jerica said.
Her goal going into last week's show was to make the cut -- when the judge eliminates about half the group -- in showmanship. She accomplished that.
Her next goal is to win grand champion lamb.
At which show?
Any one. They're all fun to her.
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cody Coupe, Craig -- Seventh place, black face sheep class 301; 12th place, open prospect steers class 010; 11th place, 12th place, open prospect steers class 011
Lacie Coupe, Craig -- fifth place, junior market swine Hampshire class 204; 15th place, open prospect steers class 010
Stacey Fitzgibbons, Meeker -- 15th and 16th place, open prospect steers class 001
Emily Hepworth, Craig -- sixth place, black face sheep class 303; eighth place, intermediate market lamb showmanship
Blake Kawcak, Craig -- eighth place, junior market swine Yorkshire class 303; 10th place, junior market swine crossbred class 609; 17th place, open prospect steers class 007; 17th place, open prospect steers class 009
Karissa Maneotis, Craig -- second place, junior market meat goat class 201; third place, intermediate market meat goat showmanship
Tom McBride (showed for various area ranches) -- Grand champion fleece (Angelo Theos of Meeker); grand and reserve champion, territory fleeces wool; second place, territory fleeces wool class W01; first, third, fifth, sixth and seventh, territory fleeces wool class W02; first, second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh place, territory fleeces wool class W03; second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, territory fleeces wool class W04; first and second place, territory fleeces wool class W05; second place, Columbia ram fleece
Darren McLaughlin, Craig -- first place, black face sheep class 302
Jessica Palmer, Dinosaur -- 12th place, junior market meat goat class 101; 10th place, junior market meat goat class 102
Maclaine Shults, Meeker -- eighth place, open prospect heifers class 003; 13th and 17th place, open prospect steers class 001
Thornburgh Valley Station, Hamilton -- third place, territory fleeces wool class W05; fourth place, Corriedale ewe fleece; second place, colored hand-spinning fleeces class W221; third place, colored hand-spinning fleeces class W223
2 Many Irons, Meeker -- 14th place, open prospect steers class 001
Emily Wellman, Hamilton -- fourth place, colored hand-spinning fleeces class W222
John Wellman, Hamilton -- fourth place, territory fleeces wool class W05; fifth place, Corriedale ewe fleece
Did someone you know fare well at the National Western Stock Show? Call and let us know, 824-7031.