Student wins big with pig at Houston Livestock Show

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Temple High School senior Tyler Sebek has a spotted pig named Stripe.

Tyler recently recovered from an emergency appendectomy Feb. 27, but that didn’t stop him from competing with his 6-month-old female swine in the Houston Livestock Show on Thursday, less than a week after his procedure.

“I was kind of nervous because I didn’t want anything to go bad,” he said. “But I was still excited because it is your last show in high school and I wanted to go out with a bang.”

Tyler was the only Temple FFA student who competed in Houston and came up big in the junior show, placing first out of 15 in the spotted gilt class. He received a Blue Rosette ribbon and a trophy.

The judges look at the structure of the pig, including bone mass and posture, which is a good indicator as to how successful the gilt is at reproducing healthy offspring. When Tyler found out he placed first he said he was in disbelief.

“I was like, ‘Are you sure? Are you positive it is me?’” he said. “I was really anxious to get back into the rink.”

Tyler advanced to the Breed Champion drive where six pigs were divided based on their birthdays. Stripe, born Aug. 4 and now pushing 268 pounds, was selected as the Champion Spotted Breeding Gilt.

Tyler took home a banner, buckle and some cash for college, of which he has yet to find out how much he won from the Texas Farm Bureau.

“We have such really great ag teachers and such a great facility,” he said, chalking up his success to his school. “Everything is so clean all the time and everyone is so helpful. It is just all around a good place to work.”

Tyler then competed in the Supreme Champion drive, the “Super Bowl” of his competition made of up 12 champion pigs of different breeds.

“The judges gave Tyler some good looks,” his mother, Melissa Sebek, said. “It was between Tyler and another pig, but last minute they turned the other way.”

It was the second time Tyler made it that far in the competition. The last time was at the Bell County Youth Fair.

It is the last big show for Tyler marking his high school career with an exclamation point.

“There is not much bigger of a win in the state of Texas than winning Houston,” he said. “It was a fun experience to be in front of the Houston banner taking a champion picture.”

Members of a Texas 4-H Club or FFA Chapter from third-grade up compete in the Houston Livestock Show. It is known to draw thousands who compete against some of the state’s finest junior livestock at the “world’s largest livestock show” as mentioned on the rodeo’s website.

Tyler started preparing for the competition the second he met Stripe.

“As soon as you get your pig you start,” Tyler said. “I got Stripe when he was 42 pounds and healthy enough to be away from his mother.”

Much like a dog, the massive gilt follows Tyler around and responds to his commands.

“I sat in the pen with her for the first month-and-a-half,” he said. “Once we were outside, we developed a whole other relationship. You can train your pig to do anything. Most pigs have their own attitude.”

Sebek said her son could not have done it without the help of his teacher Robert Steglich, who is an advisor for the local FFA chapter.

“Mr. Steglich has taught Tyler everything,” she said. “Everything that young man is … he has learned from him. He has been by all the Temple FFA kids’ sides in Bell County, San Antonio, San Angelo and Houston Swine Shows.”

Sebek said the impact Steglich has had on her son will be something he takes with him after high school.

“Words could not express how proud we are,” she said, choking back tears. “Even after Tyler’s surgery, everything this man did to make sure Tyler didn’t overdo it just touched my heart.”

Steglich, who has been teaching for more than 25 years, including three at Temple High School, said Tyler’s accomplishments went above and beyond in an otherwise difficult competition.

“Not many people do that,” Steglich said. “When they are in Houston they are running against major pig breeders even across the U.S.”

Next up for the teen is attending Tarleton State University, where he plans to continue showing pigs — of which he has three others named Penelope, Autumn and Katniss.

Following college he wants to become an agriculture professor with hopes of teaching at Tarleton or Texas A&M University.

“There are 59 days left of school,” Tyler said eagerly. “And I am about to go back to school for a long time after.”