EXPERIENCE - on the farm and in the judging ring - paid out as Klay Smith, Cowell, was named the Merino sheep state junior judging winner.
Two years ago, Mr Smith was the state winner, and came runner-up in last year's national competition, held in Adelaide.
He has been using the past few years to get more confidence in his public speaking and said the practice had helped.
In the past two years he has also judged sheep at the Cummins Show, and was an associate judge at the Crystal Brook Show last year, where they name the SA ram and ewe of the year.
He said the chance to speak on a microphone about the sheep was great experience.
For the actual judging, Mr Smith has plenty of experience.
He works on his family's Glenville stud full-time, and helps class many of their clients' sheep.
"You learn what you like and don't like and it's easier to pick faults," he said.
Mr Smith said he does enjoy the chance to judge sheep and would like to do more in the future.
He has already started thinking about the sheep in New Zealand, where he will represent SA in the national titles next year.
He said they will likely be adjusted to that colder climate and would be different from the big, plainer sheep of SA.
This year, he had some stiff competition, with 100 entrants all up - 41 in the 15-25 years' senior section.
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Senior section overjudge Ian Rowett, Mernowie, Marrabel, said this year's standard of competitors was "up a notch", particularly at the top end.
Runner-up was Emily Hamm, Whyte-Yarcowie, who was also runner-up last year, while third place went to Jackie Chapman, Evanston Park.
In the under-15s class, overseen by judge Matthew Fiebig, Hilton Heath, Sanderston, the winner was Henry Dahlitz, Bordertown, second Annie Aldridge, Lucindale, and Brayden Stewart, Naracoorte.
The Landmark achievement award went to Ella Jones Naracoorte.
In a new competition this year, the top three scores from each school were combined to find a winning school.
There were 11 schools eligible with the winner Burra Community College. Naracoorte High School came in second and Lucindale Area School third.
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