SOPHIE Nuske, Sheringa, has claimed first prize in the Merino Fleece Young Judges competition, after finishing on the podium in the previous two years.
The 18-year old Cleve Area School student was runner-up in her fleece judging competition debut at the Royal Adelaide Show in 2017, and then finished third last year, with her perseverance paying off to claim the main prize this time around.
"The competition gives an insight into handling fleeces and how they are presented, and offers new opportunities, as well as skills to add to my resume," she said.
Having grown up on a farm, Sophie said agriculture - particularly livestock and wool - was her passion, and she is tossing up which part of the industry she wants to work in once finishing school.
"I want to work in agriculture definitely, growing up on a farm and those experiences and enjoyment have led me that way, it is my passion," she said.
Related reading: Smith's experience pays off in Merino young judges
Sophie scored 138 of a possible 150 points in the competition, followed by Tom Megson in second on 128, and Ella Jones on 120.
Judge Trevor James, Landmark, said the 20 senior entrants spoke well, being clear, precise and to the point.
"Their ability to differentiate between the fleeces was very good as well, and it was closely competed," Mr James said.
"Sophie's handling of the wool was above the others, and she spoke precisely."
In the junior section for competitors under 15, first-time entrant Ebony Noack, Faith Lutheran College, Tanunda, took first place on 88 points, with Matt Gould, Lucindale Areas School, following closely in second on 87, and fellow Faith student Jackson Amery in third on 86.
Related reading: Former young judges winner takes next step
Judge Adrian Dewell said they were looking to see that the young judges could handle the wool and watching how they were improving.
"It is important they critically make observations, pick differences from fleece to fleece and take on board our tips about wool handling," he said.
"Considering some of the juniors were very new, I thought they did a very good job, they were getting into it turning the fleeces over and they took a lot of interest when we went through the fleeces after the competition - you could see the cogs turning."
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.