Claudia Hissong earns national Angus title

Shawn Hardy
Claudia Hissong’s Cherry Knoll Ark Pride 1627 won reserve junior champion heifer - division 3 - at the 2017 National Junior Angus Show in Des Moines, Iowa.

“She travels like she’s on glass. Dang, that girl’s smooth, smooth and professional.”

That’s how judge Amanda Raithel of Falls City, Nebraska, described Claudia Hissong of Greencastle in a video interview with the Angus News at 2017 National Junior Angus Show in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hissong, the daughter of Spencer and Regina (Lebo) Hissong, was named top showman, along with other honors at the show in July.

“When you hit those green shavings it’s an awesome feeling,” Hissong said. “Showmanship has always been one of my favorite events. You can’t always have the best cattle, but showmanship is about you. You’ve got to be able to get your heifer stuck and remain calm. A good showman can make a half-decent heifer look pretty good and a bad showman can ruin a really good heifer.”

Hissong was showing a good heifer, her Cherry Knoll Ark Pride 1627 won reserve junior champion heifer - division 3.

The national showmanship title is the latest step for the 20-year-old who has farm roots from both sides of her family. Her parents both showed steers growing up and met through 4-H. Her late grandfather, Leon Lebo, was adviser to the Franklin County 4-H Baby Beef Club for many years.

In 4-H, Hissong showed goats, steers, lambs, pigs and heifers. It was the Upperman sisters, Jaclyn and Lindsay, who got her interested in the Pennsylvania and National Junior Angus associations and the opportunities they offer.

“It’s well worth it, there are a lot of neat opportunities and so much more she can do. It’s not just about showing cows,” her mother said.

Hissong has won a host of awards over the years, traveled extensively to ag events across the country and received scholarships, including a $5,000 scholarship in memory of Richard L. "Dick" Spader, former American Angus Association vice president, at this year’s show. Last week, she headed to a leadership conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her calendar includes shows in Harrisburg and Louisville, Kentucky, before the Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, in January. She’ll continue to participate in open shows as she ages out of juniors.

Hissong has grown her herd to about 10 cows and raises Boer goats to sell to 4-H’ers on the family’s 30-acre farm on Martin Road in Antrim Township. Her dad also is a crop farmer in Montgomery Township and brother, Cole, 22, helps out behind the scenes. Mom takes over animal care when she is away at college.

The 2015 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School is going into her junior year at Kansas State, where she is majoring in agricultural economics with a goal to go into policy or legislation, preferably as an ag lobbyist.

When she’s home, Hissong rinses her heifer twice a day, puts her under fans and works hair, walks with her and works on showmanship, which includes making moving around the ring look smooth and effortless.

National Junior Angus Association members have just one opportunity to represent their state in the showmanship contest, which drew 45 entries this year. That field was narrowed down to 15 and then five.

Three judges evaluated the juniors on their skills while handling an animal, their ability to follow instructions and evidence of courtesy and sportsmanship in the show ring. As the top showman, Hissong received the Dean Hurlbut Award, named after the man who organized the first showmanship competition in 1967.

“The level of competition at the National Junior Angus showmanship competition is nothing but elite,” Raithel said. “Claudia might be the smoothest showman I’ve ever seen in my entire life. She’s just something special.”