<CENTER><B>Local 4-H'er is first in county<br> to land top honors<br> in state judging competition</B></CENTER>

Gehrke, a 2000 Luverne High School graduate, came home from St. Paul loaded with plaques and ribbons he'd earned on the University of Minnesota ag campus.

By a wide margin, he earned first place overall in all categories of livestock judging, finishing 13 points ahead of his next nearest competitor.

"I knew I could do it, but I didn't think I'd win by 13," Gehrke said Monday. "It's really a prestigious award."

Most contestants to reach first or second place in livestock judging get to that point after five years of state judging. Gehrke got there on his third trip, skipping past the customary intermediate judging competition.

Local Extension Educator Fraser Norton said Gehrke represented Rock County well. "I knew he was going to do well this year," Norton said. "I thought he'd be in the top 15 percent, but he just blew everybody out of the water. We are all extremely proud of Clint and very pleased that his hard work and dedication have paid off in this way."

While Gehrke is the first local competitor to place first overall, Rock County has a rich history of livestock judging at the state level. Scott Beers, for example, earned third place overall in 1972, second place in 1973 and fourth in 1974.

In addition to the first-place honors overall, Gehrke also placed second in swine judging last week, third in sheep judging, fourth in oral reasons and was only one point shy of fifth place in beef judging.

He competed among 98 other individuals at the 2000 version of the annual event. A $750 scholarship accompanies the first-place award, but since Gehrke isn't attending the U of M, he is ineligible to receive it.

Gehrke, son of Mary Overgaard, Luverne, plans to major in animal science this fall at South Dakota State University, Brookings.

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