HUDSON, Texas (KETK)–Two students from Hudson High School are heading to a national competition, but not for what you may think.
Hudson has no football team, basketball and baseball haven’t started, and it wasn’t cross country.
The East Texas pair are part of the school’s barbeque team.
“I usually kind of get a puzzled face like ‘when has bbq become a team sport?’ which it recently started just a few years ago and it’s getting bigger year by year,” said Eli Jenkins, Hudson BBQ team member.
The puzzled response is typical. Barbeque teams have not been around long.
“When you think of a team in high school, football is going to be first off. We’re in Texas, football is everything here,” said Cody Berry, Hudson Ag Teacher. “Then when you think FFA of course you’re going to think cows, sows and plows, you’re going to go right to the animals and the ag mechanics. This barbeque team has really given these guys a different route to go to be successful than the typical routes that are available to them through the FFA.”
Eli Jenkins and Reece Maddox have been competing for the school for only a few years, but the duo are no stranger to culinary competitions.
The duo started with Maddox. His family has been barbequing and competing for many years.
To him the high school team is just another way of carrying on his family’s tradition of barbeque and competition.
“It’s pretty cool because we usually just cook against adults but now we get to cook against people our age, a little less competition in a way,” said Reece Maddox, Hudson BBQ team member.
Last year they won state and instead of a trophy to put on a shelf, a massive grill sits in the front of the school, a monument to their accomplishment.
“This year, or this weekend, we’re going to the world food championship,” said Maddox. “It’s a national competition, it’s one of the largest food championships in the world.”
“It feels pretty good to go back, just kind of defend your state title,” said Jenkins.
“Hopefully we’ll be bringing home that championship by the end of this week,” said Berry.
Berry was among those who started the program a few years earlier.
“I remember we were sitting in the office one day and we’ve got Reece, he’s been competitive barbequing for years on his own, he’s got his own trailer set up. My teaching partner, Mr. Edinson, said ‘hey let’s get a barbeque team together’ and I said ‘okay sure let’s do this’,” said Berry.
As for the school, the duo’s success has been rubbing off on others.
“It definitely feels great, it feels like you’re starting something new and get to pass something on to many other people,” said Jenkins.
“We hope to continue to advance to the state level and the national level,” said Berry. “We’ve got a younger team we’re starting and we hope to continue this tradition these boys have started in the beginning years of us having a barbeque program.”
The competition will be Saturday in Dallas.
First prize gets $1,000, plus there will be other prizes for individual categories such as best ribs, brisket or chicken.
Hopefully the Hudson team can crank up the heat and smoke their competitors.