Cal Poly Animal Science Students Advance to National Competition with First-Place Win

The Cal Poly Animal Science Academic Quadrathlon team members (left to right), Ashley Tartaglia, Genna Vieira, Assistant Professor Zach McFarlane (team mentor), Rachael Stucke and Sophia Juarez after their win at the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science Academic Quadrathlon competition hosted by Cal Poly.

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly animal science students used their knowledge of drought, livestock and rangeland management to win a recent regional competition, advancing them to the nationals in June. The team animal science majors took first place at the 2022 Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science Academic Quadrathlon, held April 1-2 at Cal Poly.

The team included Sophia Juarez from San Pedro, California; Rachael Stucke, from San Mateo, California; Ashley Tartaglia, from Delano, California; and Genna Vieira, from Fremont, California. They competed in four events: a written exam, oral presentation, a practicum of eight labs, and a quiz bowl. 

The topic of the oral presentation was “Using management and technology to address severe drought conditions in the Western United States.” Students were asked to identify key strategies and tools available to ranchers and land managers to help mitigate the impact of severe drought and maintain water in western landscapes — a relevant topic throughout California and beyond. The Cal Poly team focused on how animal genetics, rangeland management, water storage, and feed selection are all tools that producers can implement in times of drought.

“The Academic Quadrathlon is a true test of a student’s ability to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom,” said Animal Science Department Assistant Professor Zach McFarlane, who mentored the team. “Our incredible students in the Animal Science Department truly embody Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing motto. The 2022 team will represent the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science with pride.”

Cal Poly hosted the regional completion and welcomed the teams from five other Western U.S. universities, including Chico State, Fresno State, Colorado State University, New Mexico State University, and Oregon State University.  

Teams are ranked by their performance in each of the four competitions of the quadrathlon, with multidisciplinary and multispecies sections designed to test students in all facets of animal science. Cal Poly ranked first in the lab practicum, written exam and quiz bowl, and second in the oral presentation. Lab practicum stations focused on application of skills related to animal physiology, lactation, nutrition, reproductive physiology, and animal health.

This is the third consecutive time that Cal Poly has won the regional competition, with additional first place wins in 2019 and 2020. The 2021 contest was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019 the Cal Poly team won the national competition.

“Participating in the Academic Quadrathlon competition was very fulfilling experience, since I was able to see how far my education in animal science has grown over the past four years,” Rachel Stucke said. “Winning the western section was a perfect capstone to my Cal Poly experience. Our team win is very much attributed to the strength and diversity of our department’s hands-on curriculum, as each team member has specialized species strengths, in addition to a strong understanding of foundational animal science concepts.” 

The win advances the Cal Poly team to the national American Society of Animal Science competition in Oklahoma City in June.

About Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, comprehensive polytechnic university. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences is comprised of expert faculty members who take pride in their ability to transform academically motivated students into innovative professionals ready to solve the complex challenges associated with feeding the world in sustainable ways. Students have access to state-of-the-art laboratories — including organic and conventional crop land, orchards, vineyards, forests and rangeland — all of which provide the basis for Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing methodology. It is the fifth-largest college of agriculture in the country with more than 4,100 undergraduate students. For more information, visit

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