Patience drives success for local Livestock Show champion

Lehman High freshman Hayden Lugo is no stranger to the competitive world of raising swine.

Lugo, who has been competing since he was in the third grade, raises Duroc, a red haired swine that has won him the Hays County Youth Livestock Show Market Swine championship in 2016 and 2017. This year, Lugo opted to compete with a crossbreed swine.

Lugo’s hard work paid off Jan. 25 when he claimed the Livestock Show’s Market Swine championship for a third straight year.

His crossbreed swine, Coal, was exactly what judge Willie Kirkpatrick was looking for. Coal is a stocky, muscular 241-pound pig that swept the competition.

Lugo and Coal confidently walked the stage as over a hundred spectators carefully observed the pigs. Kirkpatrick was close to the ground, judging the pigs’ every move.

Kirkpatrick walked up to Coal and slapped the pig on his back; it was the official sign that a decision was made. The crowd erupted with cheer as Coal was the winner.

“It’s been a longtime coming and I’m so happy we won,” Lugo said. “I knew from the moment I chose him that he was a champion.”

Coal, a dark haired pig, was the crossbreed champion earlier in the morning, advancing him to a spot in the grand championship against other competitors across four different swine divisions. 

Lehman High freshman Hayden Lugo (center) walks with other competitors in the ring at Dripping Springs Ranch Park. (Photo by Exsar Arguello)

The grand championship had a variety of pigs from different breeds, color and sizes. The diversity made the competition even more stringent for Lugo and Coal.

The road to the championship was a patient one. Lugo spent every afternoon feeding, walking, and cleaning Coal’s pen for months before it hit the competition stage.

Part of the process is keeping the pig healthy, fed and active, Lugo said. The process is meticulous and time consuming.

“We decided not to compete in previous competitions earlier in the year,” said Lexi Lugo, Hayden’s mother. “There is always a possibility these animals can get sick when they’re exposed to other pigs, and we didn’t want to take that chance.”

Lugo and Coal look to continue their winning streak in San Antonio when they compete at the San Antonio Livestock Show on Feb. 17.

Every pig judge is different, and some judges will look at how wide or muscular the animal is, Lugo said. Coal is a stout pig and judge Kirkpatrick called him “the beast” out on the competition floor.

“He has the whole package,” Lugo said. “He’s a perfect, square, muscular pig. We did everything right from walking, feeding, brushing and cleaning him. The process is long, but the wait was worth it.”

When Lugo started raising Coal, he was eight weeks old and around 40 pounds. At a competition weight of 241, Coal gained around 200 pounds since September.

“I’m so proud of my son and all the work he has done this year,” Lugo said. “The work isn’t done. Next we have San Antonio.”

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