Alondra Mercado and Angelique Gutierrez as sophomores were part of a 2017-2018 Coast Union High School girls basketball team that racked up a 10-0 record in the Coast Valley League — and played Santa Clara High School impressively tough in a 44-37 CIF Division 5AAA Round 2 playoff loss.
They didn’t take their time away from the courts since to relax.
Mercado and Gutierrez teamed up with a dozen FFA classmates to score some notable achievements at the California Mid-State Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction in Paso Robles last month. Coast Union’s 14 FFA students sold their pigs, goats and heifers for a total of $56,900 — eclipsing 2017’s $44,868 livestock sales at the fair by 15 FFA students.
A total of $2.2 million was recorded in sales for 2018 by all FFA and 4-H organizations in San Luis Obispo County.
Mercado won the FFA Grand Champion Meat Goat trophy and qualified for the Supreme Show, placing third in the Overall Market Goat competition for the entire fair. Mercado took third place in the Novice Showmanship for her Replacement Heifer. Gutierrez took the Blue Ribbon and won the Novice Showmanship class for her replacement heifer; Gutierrez also received second place in the Market Class for her goat.
(A replacement heifer is a female calf chosen for its potential to produce offspring, not to be sold for beef production.)
“It was the most successful fair that Coast Union’s FFA has had to date,” said program leader/teacher Darcy Wetzel in an email interview. “Our program gets better… each year, and we are really making a name for ourselves as a competitive, quality program.”
Wetzel gave credit to Coast Union’s new agriculture teacher, Yvonne Staffler, who “hit the ground running supporting and helping the students every day” after joining the faculty in September 2017.
Michelle Acosta won her heifer class and received a Blue Ribbon for showing the best animal in her class. Acosta also took second place in Novice Showmanship for her heifer. In the highly competitive Showmanship class – judged by students’ ability to show the animals — Coast Union’s FFA took first, second, third and fifth, Wetzel reported.
In the Advanced Showmanship class — where students are not actually placed in each class but the top three to four students are chosen to continue competing — four Coast Union students were chosen out of 24 contestants. Those four students placed in the top 10, Wetzel explained.
Other successes by Coast Union FFA students included: Lily Wright landed fifth place in the Market Hog Novice Showmanship event (against 24 contestants); Noah Calvin took fifth place in Novice Showmanship; and Alyssa Drew received fifth place for her Market Goat.
Wetzel said six of the eight heifers sold for over $6,000 each, and two of those animals went for over $7,500 — which was in the top five highest selling heifers at the fair.
Wetzel pointed out that Randy and Nancy Flam purchased five of those eight heifers.
“I would like to send them a huge thank you for all their support and dedication to our program,” she said.
Students that raised and showed Replacement Heifers included Ani Corbet, Joseph Crowe, Brandon Loredo and Jasmine Pena. Students that raised and showed Market Hogs included Emma Sison, Annika Wharton, Bella Raethke and Angelina Perez.
“I could not be more proud of the students and how well they did with their projects,” Wetzel said.