Inverell stock and station agent, Will Claridge, sold up a storm to win this year's ALPA National Young Auctioneers Competition at Sydney Royal Show, with Queenslander Corey Evans from Kingaroy placed second.
NSW runner up was Jake Smith from Ray White Rural, Tenterfield, while another Inverell finalist, Justin Oakenfull, from Elders, was highly commended.
Mr Claridge, who set his sights on a career in the agency game after just a few days' work experience at age 16, was last year's NSW winner in the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association competition in Sydney.
The 24 year-old works with Inverell firm, CL Squires and Company, where he takes his turn on the catwalk at weekly prime cattle sales, fortnightly sheep sales and monthly store sales.
The state title went to Elders Rural Services agent, Harry Waters, 23, from Gundagai, whose father Patrick is also a selling agent and regularly calls the bids for Cowra firm, Allan Grey and Company.
A record spectator crowd at the Royal saw 10 auctioneers contest the State finals and nine in the nationals, all taking bidding on 57 steers judged in the school and open classes on Thursday and Friday.
The national contest attracted two NSW finalists, two from Queensland, one each from South Australia and Western Australia, two from Victoria.
South Australia's tilt at the national title was left to Lucindale's Nathan McCarthy when his fellow Elders running mate, Ben Gregory, from Mount Gambier, was a late withdrawal because of a COVID-19 issue at home.
National runner up, Mr Evans, 23, has been in the industry for six years, now working at Aussie Land and Livestock where he sells property, real estate, livestock and chattels.
Winner, Mr Claridge told the crowd he felt the judges final decision could have gone any way, given the level of experience and skill displayed by his rivals.
"What a great opportunity I have been given as a 24-year-old to be in this business and find myself coming here to Sydney," he said.
"I've been given a lot of chances by CL Squires, and my first employer in Armidale, but I still have a lot to learn."
Originally from a family farming background at Moree, Goondiwindi, Bundarra and Wallangra, he "got hooked" on being an agent after a high school teacher suggested he might like to try a week of work experience with the Ray White Rural agency in Armidale.
"I was hooked after a couple of days. I started work there as soon as I left school," he said.
"I always liked chatting with people - in fact, I probably got easily distracted and talked too much in class.
"Now talking to people is my paid job. I really enjoy it."
State winner Mr Waters leads the Elders selling team at Wagga Wagga's prime sales.
After a year of weekly sales auction action he said practice was "starting to make perfect".
"I think I'm really getting the feel for it now."
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