Parkes High School student Sarah Townsend was hoping for a fifth place when she competed in the Merino Fleece Young Judges Competition at this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show.
So it’s no wonder it came as quite a shock to the 17-year-old when she was instead named Reserve Champion.
It was the first time Sarah had qualified for the Sydney Royal round, after successfully competing at town level and then winning the regional level at Eugowra earlier in the year.
While the Year 12 student was used to working as a roustabout on the family farm at Goonumbla, she wasn’t entirely a stranger when it came to merinos.
“Our agriculture teacher, Georgie Price, got us all into it...it was something different,” Sarah said.
“I didn’t think I’d get through...it felt pretty good.”
Sarah competed against 22 other young judge finalists from across NSW, which was later narrowed down to 10.
Proud mum Tania Townsend remembers the moment well.
“I went with her to Sydney, she was really nervous on the train because she knew she was going to have to get up and speak in front of all those people,” Tania said.
“But she did so good, it was like she was doing a cake baking demonstration – she was walking around explaining why she chose this and why she chose that.
“No one else did that, they just stood there.
“She was the youngest one competing, she just spoke so well...I obviously got a tear in my eye.”
Sarah said she didn’t get to listen to any of the other finalists during the competition.
“I was thinking fifth place, that’d be alright,” she said.
“And when they didn’t call me for fifth, I thought ‘I must be getting a participation award’,” she laughed.
“I was pretty happy [when they called me for Reserve Champion].”
Sarah said she intends on entering the Merino Fleece Young Judges Competition again next year.