First-time entrant wins LMA’s second qualifying contest for 2010 WLAC |

First-time entrant wins LMA’s second qualifying contest for 2010 WLAC

CRAWFORD, Neb. – Russele Sleep of Bedford, Iowa, said he entered the 2nd qualifying contest for Livestock Marketing Association’s 2010 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship, held Oct. 9, “just to get my foot in the door, because some day I want to be the world champion.”

First-time entrant Sleep’s foot is definitely in the door – he won the contest and moves on to next June’s WLAC, to be held at the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City.

The reserve champion from a field of 17 entrants, is Rick Shoemaker of Kearney, Neb., and the runner-up champion is Kevin Schow of Paxton, Neb.

The three winners qualify for the WLAC, along with the next five highest scorers. They are, in alphabetical order – Ted Baum of O’Neill, Neb., Will Epperly of Moneta, Virg., Tom Frey of Creston, Iowa, Andrew McDowell of Vandalia, Ill., and Jasono Santomaso of Sterling, Colo.

Russele Sleep, 25, said hearing his name called as champion, “was like a dream come true.” He’s a 2004 graduate of the Missouri Auction School, and has been a full-time auctioneer for about a year and a half. His victory isn’t the only good news Sleep and his wife, Lacey, are celebrating. Just before leaving for Crawford, Neb., the couple learned they’re expecting their first child.

Reserve Champion, Rick Shoemaker, has been in the contest four times, finishing among the top 10 finalists twice. Asked what keeps him coming back, he said he sees the contest as a way to promote the competitive livestock marketing system. “That’s something I really believe in,” said Shoemaker, 42, a partner in Huss Livestock Market, LLC, of Kearney, Neb.

At the WLAC there is an interview competition. Each semi-finalist will be asked the same three questions on industry issues and topics.

This is his 5th year in the contest for Runner-Up Champion, Kevin Schow, who admits he’s received “quite a little” tutoring from his father, the 1980 world champion, Dean Schow. Kevin Schow, 38, said as a child he “followed my dad around,” from market to market. This is his 5th year in the contest, and he was one of the 10 finalists last year. The best advice his dad gave him about the business, Kevin said, ‘is treat everybody fairly,” and remember that when you’re selling at an auction market, those livestock “could be their owner’s yearly income.”

A cash award and a custom-made belt buckle goes to the winner in each quarterfinal competition. The reserve and runner-up champions in each contest also receive custom belt buckles.

The remaining qualifying contest is Dec. 2 in Parsons, Kan. Brian Little of Wann, Okla., won the 1st qualifying contest on Sept. 25 in Billings, Mont. and Tye Casey of Plymouth, Ind., won the 3rd qualifying contest on Oct. 15 in Calhoun, Ga.

The eight qualifiers from each quarterfinal competition, along with the reigning International Auctioneer Champion, Paul Ramirez of Tucson, Ariz., make up the field of 33 semi-finalists for the 2010 WLAC.

At the WLAC, three titlists will be selected and the winners take home thousands of dollars in cash and prizes.

LMA conducts the WLAC and the qualifying contests to put the focus on competitive livestock marketing, and the auctioneer’s continuing vital role in that process. The qualifying contests, and the WLAC, are broadcast live at

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