Illinois auctioneer wins 2017 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship
June 21, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Brian Curless of Pittsfield, Ill., proved his world-class talent as a livestock auctioneer at the 54th annual World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC), presented by the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA). Public Auction Yards, Billings, Mont., hosted the contest on Saturday, June 17.
Curless was raised in the livestock marketing industry, but did not originally have any interest in becoming an auctioneer. During his mid-20s, Curless recognized the need for livestock auctioneers as the population of current auctioneers was aging. He attended auction school and from there, had "put WLAC Champions on a pedestal."
The newly crowned Champion notes Jack Lowderman and Bob Evans as personal mentors, while recognizing other auctioneers like Stanley Stout and the 1987 WLAC Champion, Jeff Stokes, as "heroes" in the livestock auctioneering world.
In 2012, Curless competed in a WLAC Qualifying Event for the first time. Six years of competing later, he won the title and is now looking forward to a year of representing the LMA and livestock marketing industry. Curless reminds other auctioneers that perseverance is key in pursuing the WLAC Championship and to not get discouraged.
This year's champion takes home a customized 2017 Ford F-150 truck to use during the year of his reign; $5,000 cash; a championship bronze sculpture; world champion Gist belt buckle and a hand-tooled leather briefcase from LMA; world champion ring sponsored by Public Auction Yards; the Golden Gavel Award sponsored by the World Wide College of Auctioneering; and a James Reid, Ltd. money clip sponsored by CattleUSA.com.
Curless was sponsored by Fairview Sale Barn, Fairview, Ill.; F&T Livestock, Palmyra, Mo.; and Kirksville Livestock, LLC.
A special WLAC show will air on RFD-TV June 26 beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. The 2010 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Kyle Shobe, will host the show, and a special segment will highlight the 70th anniversary of the LMA.
Other Awards Received
Cody Lowderman from Macomb, Ill., earned Reserve Champion honors, and Will Epperly from Dunlap, Iowa, was named Runner-up Champion.
As Reserve Champion, Lowderman received $2,000 cash, a Gist knife and reserve champion Gist belt buckle from LMA. Additionally, Lowderman was named the 2017 Audrey K. Banks "Rookie of the Year" and was awarded $500 cash by LMA, in recognition of an impressive display of talent at his first WLAC competition. The Reserve Champion and Rookie of the Year also won the award for High Interview score. Doing so, he received $1,000 cash and a hand-tooled leather padfolio from the LMA. Lowderman was sponsored by Carthage Livestock, Inc.
Epperly took home $1,000 cash, a Gist knife and runner-up Gist belt buckle, sponsored by LMA. He was sponsored by Dunlap Livestock Auction, Dunlap, Iowa; West Point Livestock Auction, Inc., West Point, Neb., and S&B Cattle Company, Lexington, Ky.
In addition to Curless, Lowderman and Epperly, the 2017 WLAC finalists were Colton Brantley, Clovis, Calif.; Mike Godberson, Pawnee, Okla.; Brennin Jack, Prince Albert, Sask.; Jacob Massey, Petersburg, Tenn.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Jared Miller, Leon, Iowa; and Russele Sleep, Bedford, Iowa. All received Gist belt buckles from LMA.
Remaining semi-finalists who competed in the WLAC: Mitch Barthel, Perham, Minn.; Neil Bouray, Webber, Kan.; Ab Carroll, Downeyville, Ontario; Leon Casselman, Long Lane, Mo.; Lance Cochran, Medford, Okla.; Eric Drees, Nampa, Idaho; Phillip Gilstrap, Pendleton, S.C.; Brandon Hamel, Damar, Kan.; Garrett Jones, Los Banos, Calif.; Dan Koupal, Dante, S.D.; Corey Lawrence, Thorsby, Alb.; Wade Leist, Boyne City, Mich.; Blake McDaniel, Tallassee, Ala.; Brandon McLagan, Unionville, Mo.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Lander Nicodemus, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, Ky.; Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.; Tim Yoder, Montezuma, Ga.; Billy Younkin, Cecil, Ala.; and Zack Zumstein, Prairie, Idaho.
Each of the semi-finalists received a custom WLAC hat can from LMA and a jacket, gift certificate for a custom hat from Rand's, and a basket of Montana Proud items from the host market.
WLAC Qualification and Scoring
Thirty of the semi-finalists were selected during three regional qualifying events that took place at LMA member-markets in the U.S. As the International Auctioneer Champion is always given a "bye" to become an automatic semi-finalist, Corey Lawrence qualified as the champion from Calgary Stampede's International Livestock Auctioneer Championship in Canada.
When not on the auction block at the livestock market he regularly sells at, Curless will spend his year traveling the country sharing his auctioneering skills with other livestock auction markets, and acting as a spokesperson for the industry. Therefore, each semi-finalist had an opportunity to establish their knowledge of the livestock marketing business, and their ability to express that knowledge with clarity, in a judged interview session on Friday of the championship.
The auctioneering phase of the contest is conducted during an actual sale, with live bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; their ability to catch bids and conduct the sale; and finally, if the judge would hire the auctioneer for their own livestock market.
Following the semi-finals, ten finalists were selected to return to the auction ring for the final round where they sold additional drafts of cattle, and were judged again, based on the same criteria.
The 2016 Interview Judges were Russell Nemetz, Northern Broadcasting System in Billings, Mont.; Brody Peak, Emporia Livestock Sales, Emporia, Kan.; Curt Sporleder, Unionville Livestock Market, Inc., Unionville, Mo.; Fred Wacker, Montana Stockgrowers Association, Helena, Mont.; Billy Wallace, Valley Stockyard, Inc., Decatur, Ala.
The 2016 WLAC Live Auction judges were Billy Easter, Wichita Livestock Sales Co., LLC, Wichita Falls, Texas; Carl McKettrick, Jr., Arcadia Stockyard, Arcadia, Fla.; John Rodgers, 1986 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion and Visalia Stockman's Market, Inc., Visalia, Calif.; Thor Roseth, Philip Livestock Auction, LLC, Philip, S.D.; and Dan Williams, 1982 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion and WK-3 Cattle Co., Boone, N.C.
The 2017 LMA Annual Convention and WLAC was sponsored in part by the Meadowbrook Star Insurance Group, Cattlemen's Beef Board, and the official animal health sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim. More information can be found at http://www.LMAweb.com.