Seniors Luke Ryan and Blake Kirchhoff posted a 1-2 finish to lead the Kansas State University crops team to a first place finish at the national invitational crops contest recently.
The squad jumped back into in-person competition this spring after a pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Ryan, who is from Solomon, Kansas, and Kirchhoff, from Hardy, Nebraska, grabbed the top two individual spots, but were followed closely by teammates Evan Bott (junior from Palmer, Kansas) in fourth and Trevor Mullen (junior from Salina, Kansas) in twelfth.
The alternate team members included Alex Kaufmann (junior from Concordia, Kansas, who placed eighth overall) Jayden Strohl (junior from Cunningham, Kansas) and Austin Hobbs (junior from Buffalo, Kansas). All are agronomy majors at K-State.
The national invitational was hosted by Hutchinson Community College. K-State beat Iowa State (second) and the University of Nebraska (third). Nine four-year schools, four two-year schools, and four high school teams also competed.
Crops teams compete in four categories, including laboratory practical, agronomic exam, math practical and plant and seed identification. As a team, K-State placed first in lab and exam and second in math and identification. Individually, Ryan was first in all four components, while Kirchhoff tied for first in math and was second in lab and identification. Bott was third in laboratory practical.
This was the second spring competition for K-State’s team. At the regional contest in March, K-State placed second to Iowa State. Ryan and Kirchhoff also swept the top two individual spots at regionals.
Last fall, K-State’s crops team won a virtual crops contest held online during the national meeting of the Students of Agronomy Soils and Environmental Sciences. Ryan and Kirchoff swept the top two spots and Madison Tunnell (senior from Overland Park, Kansas) placed fifth. Tunnell graduated in December and did not compete with the team this spring.
The team is coached by K-State professor of agronomy Kevin Donnelly and graduate student Sarah Zerger.