Thorsby places 16th in national land judging competition

Published 5:53 pm Thursday, May 12, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Haley Maddox, Mesha Mims, Tori Mims and Laina Prady made the 784-mile journey to El Reno, Oklahoma to represent Thorsby High School and the state of Alabama at the National Land Judging Competition from May 3-5.

Over 120 teams competed for the national championship, and the Thorsby Rebels land judging team finished 16th overall.

“The overall competition was very fun, and we had just as much fun competing,” Mesha Mims said. “It was a great experience just to compete out there.”

The students and Thorsby FFA advisor Brian Lucas set a goal of the top 10, and were four points away from 10th place.

“I think they were really good, and I told them our goal was the top 10,” Lucas said. “I told them there was no reason to duck their head. We set our standards high, and they should be proud.”

Thorsby outscored all of the California teams and two of the four Texas teams in the competition.

“I’m proud of all of us,” Tori Mims said. “I think we did our best, and we went there and did what we knew we could do.”

After the 11-and-a-half-hour drive was complete, the four students and Lucas settled in before two full days of practice. Practice consisted of a full run through of what the competition days would be like.

“The practice was cool, there were so many people there just to practice,” Tori Mims said. “It was so cool to see so many people interested in it, like us. There are people here who are interested and committed to it, but this was nationals.”

The practice time was valuable for the students because the soil in Oklahoma is much different than the soil in Alabama. The soil in Oklahoma has more rock in it, and the rock breaks down to a fine sand.

Practice the next day was cancelled due to rain, which was a constant threat to the competition in the peak month for tornados in Oklahoma. The off time gave the students time to drive around the unfamiliar terrain of Oklahoma. They said they were surprised by the landscape of Oklahoma, and the flatness of the terrain. All of the trees they saw were short due to the tornadic weather often happening there.

“I always knew plants adapted to their environment, but I never actually saw it,” Tori Mims said. “But when I was ready to go home, I wanted my tall pine (trees) back.”

The students were able to mingle with the other teams at the competition during the social events that were held. Tori said she met many different people, learned to line dance, and “we made friendships over something we had in common.”

“In Indianapolis, there are so many teams out there, so there is not a lot of down time,” Lucas said. “They got to enjoy themselves more out there because of the more down time they got.”

The students got a police escort to the competition site and people lined the streets to wave to them as they left.

“I felt like there was way more to do there than when we went to Indianapolis,” Maddox said. “As far as the sights and social things, we never did that in Indiana.”

FFA has been a staple in Thorsby High School for many years, and the tradition will continue to grow.

“I hope this is something they will remember the rest of their lives,” Lucas said.